Brighton couple have hopes of building retirement bungalow dashed for fifth time

Posted On 30 Jul 2011 at 11:30 pm

An elderly couple have had their hopes dashed of building a retirement bungalow next to their house in Patcham.

Raymond Counsell, 82, and Ray Counsell, 74, of Ridgeside Avenue, said that they were finding the steep steps up to their present home increasingly difficult and the garden too big.

They want to stay in the cul de sac where they have lived for 44 years.

So the couple applied for planning permission to replace their garage with a chalet-style one-bedroom property with a garage attached.

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It is their fifth application in six years. All four previous proposals failed to win approval.

The couple appealed twice to the independent Planning Inspectorate but in each case lost their appeal, most recently in November last year.

Mr Counsell said: “We are not property developers. We want to move into the bungalow and we hope our son will live in the house.”

Some 21 letters opposing the Counsells’ proposal were sent to planners although Mr Counsell said: “We traced ten letters of objection to teachers and staff at Dorothy Stringer School.”

He said that one of his neighbours had worked at the school.

Nine letters of support were sent in.

A report to Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee recommended that members refuse planning permission because

  • the small plot is an awkward shape
  • the proposed development is out of character with the surrounding area
  • the development appears cramped within the plot
  • the layout fails to reflect the spacious character of the area
  • the garden would not be big enough compared with neighbouring back gardens
  • the proposal is not sustainable enough

The report said: “The development fails to enhance the positive qualities of the neighbourhood and is out of character with the surrounding area which is predominantly spacious in character with the benefit generous rear gardens.”

Councillor Brian Pidgeon, one of three Conservative ward councillors representing Patcham, spoke at the planning committee meeting on Wednesday 20 July.

He said: “Ward councillors have been contacted by many concerned residents.

“The site is too small for the building that is proposed.

“Parking has always been a problem. There are 11 vehicles attached to the six houses in the close. There are only two legitimate parking places.”

Luke Carter, a director of Lewis & Co Planning, which represented the Counsells, said that an extra parking space would be created.

Mr Carter said that if the proposed property was built then the gardens would be far from the smallest in the neighbourhood.

He also said that the previous application was designed to a more sustainable standard but the design was one of the reasons that the application was turned down on appeal.

He added that the new design had been worked up in consultation with planning officials.

The planning committee rejected the application unanimously.

Afterwards the Counsells said that they would again be considering an appeal.

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