Speakers - ICS. Save Otago Lane Campaign Iain Steel Chair of the Otago Lane Community Association (OLCA) Lifetime resident of the West End (Otago Lane for over 15-years) Martin Fell Proprietor of Tchai-Ovna House of Tea Business established in Otago Lane for over 10-years Tom Johnstone
“Other policies conflict with RES 6”.When asked which part of which policy he was referring to, the applicant’s agent could give no answer.
“Only one side of the lane is left”.The definition of lane in the Policy does not require the lane to have two sides. Some lanes have only ever had one side and are still regarded as lanes by the planning authority.
“The erection of a ‘civic frontage’ to the river requires something larger/taller at the east end of the lane”.A ‘civic frontage’ at the end of the lane would be a further breach of RES 6, whose aim is to ensure that development does not result in overdevelopment and that residential amenity for existing and future residents is of a high quality. There are no policies which refer to ‘civic frontages’
“The majority of the lane is an adopted ‘road’”This no more than a trivial and unremarkable consequence of the word ‘lane’ not appearing anywhere in the Roads (Scotland) Act. To suggest that the adoption of a lane under this Act transforms it into a road, or has any effect at all on its continuing to be a lane, is ludicrous.
“A number of properties have frontages to the lane”So far as we are aware, most, if not all, lanes with mews properties in them have frontages to the lane; that is where their front doors usually are.
“The lane is not directly located to the rear of properties”.Although the lane may have been laid out and built upon before the properties in Gibson Street were constructed, it is quite obviously now behind them.
“Existing planning consents already granted and still ‘live’ were for buildings higher than 2 storeys on this side of the lane”.It is at least equally likely that neither of the existing planning consents may now be ‘live’, and need not be taken into account.
“The lane has a long history of accommodating ‘large’ scale buildings in the form of Hubbard’s Bakery and a garage; these buildings being around 4 storeys or thereby”.The lane does not have any history of accommodating 4 storey buildings. The Director of Planning knew this in 1988 and 1997 when his reports to Committee referred to 2 and 3 storey buildings on the southern part of the site. The applicant’s own documents contain maps showing that the buildings north of Otago Lane were separate from Hubbard’s Bakery and drawings from 1952 establish that the elevation to Otago Lane of what was a garage and repair shop was nowhere above 3 storeys high and less than 44 metres in total from end to end. The proposed elevation to the Lane presents a frontage 59 metres broad and 4 to 8 storeys in height, the highest points being at the ends.
“The existing buildings were demolished to make way for the 1988 Beechwood Homes consent, which would have ‘replaced’ them with another 5 storey building in the lane. The 1988 consent was considered under the West End Local Plan, which offered similar protection to ‘back lanes’ as the current City Plan 2; it is therefore reasonable to consider that the planning position here would be consistent in supporting a further application for building in the lane of similar height. Accordingly it is not that RES 6 does or indeed does not apply to the site, but more of a consideration of the historic context of the site, i.e. the site has always had large buildings on it, therefore these are appropriate for this location”.The planning authority should not allow itself to be held to ransom on account of an earlier decision which may no longer be capable of implementation. It is, however, under a statutory obligation to determine any given application by reference to the current development plan, which is City Plan 2.
“A lane is generally to the rear of a property and subservient to the urban context and block which forms it”.We agree that a lane should be subservient to the urban context and block which forms it. It is consequently incongruous for the applicant to seek to mark the corner formed by this lane and Otago Street with a prominent tower.
“The historical disposition, scale and massing of built form is to be considered to ensure that character of the space is maintained. In the case of Otago Lane this historical position is one of large scale commercial premises covering the site for over 100 years”.Although the historical position of the site may have been one of large scale commercial premises covering the site for about 100 years, in terms of floor area, this is not the case in terms of the height of the buildings immediately north of Otago Lane. None of these were above 3 storeys.
“Otago Lane does not accurately fall into this category; as it is a ‘wide’ back lane whose surrounding site has predominantly been inhabited”.‘Wide’ back lanes are not exempt from compliance with RES 6. There are lanes in the City both wider and narrower than Otago Lane without it being possible to infer anything from that.What does the “surrounding site has predominantly been inhabited” mean? This would be equally true of any lane with nearby houses. However, most of the development site itself has not until recently had any houses on it. Up to immediately prior to the construction of the 1997 ‘Beazer’ block, there were none. Maybe “inhabited” really means “built upon” or “developed”, but that still leaves nothing to distinguish Otago Lane from other lanes when it comes to the relevance of RES 6 for new residential development.
“The purpose of this policy (City Plan 2 RES 6), when considering a Conservation Area, is to ensure that due regard is given to the historic context of the proposed development. …”This is nonsense; the aim of RES 6 is to “ensure that development in lanes and gardens does not result in overdevelopment and that residential amenity for existing and future residents is of a high quality.” Massive overdevelopment and deterioration in residential amenity would result from what is now being proposed. Overdevelopment is a ‘material consideration’ and has very recently been given as a reason for refusal of permission for a mixed development at 341 Great Western Road which would have resulted in far less overdevelopment than that now being proposed for Otago Lane.