At Planning Committee on Wednesday 1 November councillors voted to refuse planning permission for a new commercial development in Trafalgar Street, next to the Prince Albert pub.
The application was for the demolition of the former car rental premises at 47 Trafalgar Street and its replacement with a four-storey building (plus basement) of solely commercial units within Use Class E - so incorporating offices, retail, and café/restaurant uses.
Originally the application also included holiday lets, which raised concerns about potential noise complaints given that the pub is a popular music venue opening seven days a week from midday to midnight.
The original application was subsequently changed to remove the residential holiday lets and make other changes. This, along with issues raised in consultation responses, led to a delay in the application coming to committee to be decided.
Councillors unanimously voted to refuse the application on the grounds of:
- Failure to demonstrate that the future use of the new development would not have a detrimental impact on the Prince Albert as a heritage and cultural asset.
- Failure to demonstrate that the design, bulk and footprint of the development has responded to the character of the North Laine area, including its heritage features.
- Failure to demonstrate that the scheme would not have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of residents of Over Street, including through the built form being overbearing.
Councillors heard representations at the committee meeting from the pub’s director George Taylor and from the council's Environmental Health and Senior Urban Design Officers. Over 1,280 letters of objection to the scheme were also received.
Speaking in support of the application Luke Austin, of Whaleback Planning Consultants, outlined the changes the applicant had already made to the original proposal following feedback from the council and the community, including noise mitigation measures.
However, several councillors expressed concerns in the debate that because the use class is so wide, future users could include creches and medical centres which could result in pressure on the pub to reduce its noise. Others did not think amendments to the design had gone far enough.
Planning Committee member Councillor Julie Cattell said: “The Prince Albert is a Grade II listed landmark building and long-standing live music venue.
“It is clear that there was real concern in the community about the size of this proposed development and its potential impact on the pub and on neighbouring homes.
“I hope this decision shows our determination to protect our conservation areas and heritage and cultural assets.”
Following the refusal of the application and the comments made by Committee in terms of feedback the applicant can submit a revised scheme, taking on board the reasons for the refusal of the application.
A revised scheme if submitted, can then be tested with neighbours in a consultation process.
It’s unclear at this early stage what they intend to do, but it is expected that there will be early discussions with council planning officers.