Plans to extend a flat above a shop and turn the basement into a flat face opposition from council planning officials.
The proposals for 10 Blatchington Road, in Hove, include enlarging the existing first-floor flat to create a two-bedroom maisonette and to convert the basement into a one-bedroom studio flat.
Reinstating the original raised ground floor level is one of the reasons why officers want Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee to refuse planning permission next Wednesday (10 August).
The project by Annie and Janjan Ltd, whose directors are councillor Robert Nemeth, 42, and Tristan Mills, 49, has received 16 letters of support on the council’s website.
The application will receive extra scrutiny and go before the Planning Committee because one of the applicants is a councillor.
A report to the Planning Committee said that the proposals would “appear incongruous”, with shop windows too large compared with the existing terrace, and the revised floor height for the basement would “visibly cut across” the shop window.
The report said: “The proposed development would remove a street-level entrance to the ground floor premises, introducing steps which would represent a barrier to access a local service for local residents.
“The proposals are not, therefore, considered to incorporate all reasonable measures to make the shopfront accessible to all and would be contrary to policy.”
The ground floor will remain a commercial outlet, with a single-storey rear extension demolished to enlarge the garden area.
A report by Annie and Janjan’s agent, Whaleback, said that the buildings on the north side of Blatchington Road – opposite – were three-storey, and the residential buildings had raised ground floors with stepped access.
Councillors approved a similar raised ground floor for 8 Blatchington Road, the neighbouring property which Councillor Nemeth is also redeveloping.
The report said: “Key to the design case is that an almost identical design has been recently approved … at number 8, directly alongside the application property.
“The proposed design would match this approved design and the two properties would appear very much in keeping with each other.
“Both would have a commercial frontage appearance at raised ground floor level, albeit number 8 will be in residential use.
“The proposed appearance would be entirely in keeping with the mixed character of Blatchington Road and would restore the original floor levels of the building, providing passers-by a greater understanding of the historic evolution of the street and its buildings.”
Mr Mills said: “We have been proud to put a huge amount of time and effort into working closely with neighbours to prepare a proposal that provides more housing, increases the size of an existing flat and improves the layout of an existing shop.
“Not only that, it creates a garden where none exists presently and restores an Edwardian shopfront to high standards to match a recent planning permission for the adjoining building.
“That is why the application has received high levels of support from the public. It would be quite unimaginable to leave the building in its current two-storey form when it was built as a three-storey house.”
Letters of support back the design and regeneration of Blatchington Road. One, with the author’s details redacted by the council, said: “As a very near neighbour, I must add my support. I’m delighted to have been consulted by the applicant and I’m happy with all elements of the proposal.
“The retention of a shop is welcome and the increase in footfall through residential conversion of the basement will surely help existing businesses.
“The new accommodation looks spacious and airy. The large garden will also help with improvements to local biodiversity.”
The Planning Committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall at 2pm on Wednesday 10 August. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.
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