Browning Street Car Park Development

Statement by Cllr John Rhodes, Chair of Crewe Town Council Planning Committee.

‘I note with interest that a petition has been started  that seeks to oppose the development of the Browning Street Car Park. Planning Committee met earlier this year to make its submission to Cheshire East on this matter and the response is reproduced below. The public will see from the comments that Council ‘objects very strongly’ and as such I for one would encourage all residents who object to this project to make their views known’

18/2481N Land off Browning Street, Crewe.
Proposed 8 houses and associated infrastructure, plus remodel of car park.

The Town Council objects very strongly to this proposal for the following reasons:

1. The application would be contrary to Policy TRAN8 of the Borough of Crewe and Nantwich Replacement Local Plan which states that “Proposals for new development involving the loss of existing car parks as shown on the proposals map will not be permitted unless the developer provides:
• Improvements to public transport systems in order to serve the development; or
• As part of the scheme a direct replacement for the number of car parking spaces lost.”
Browning Street Car Park is extremely well used and is full for most of the working day. This proposal could result in a 50% reduction in spaces available to the public from 72 (current) to 38 (allowing for 8 spaces for the new dwellings and 10 spaces for the Limelight development as shown on drawing 50797_PL(90) 09). The loss of 38 spaces is clearly significant for local residents, businesses and town centre employees as demonstrated by the objections submitted to this application. It is clearly contrary to Policy TRAN8, notwithstanding the applicant’s contrived argument that as the car park is not lost, but merely halved in size, it is not in conflict with TRAN8.

2. The provision of 10 spaces will be insufficient for the needs of the 23 unit Limelight development, and so there will be additional pressure on the remaining spaces. The submitted layout plan is inconsistent with the plans approved for the Limelight development (ref 11/3168N) which provides for 15 spaces in a different layout. As highlighted by Cheshire East Council’s Parking Service Team Leader, there will be difficulties in the management of spaces allocated for the new houses and for the Limelight if they are designated; and since the car park is full, these residents will be unable to park during the day if they are undesignated.

3. There is already pressure on off-street parking in this area from recent and proposed developments including Hightown apartments, residential conversions on Hightown, as well as the recently commenced conversion of the former Limelight Club. There is also pressure from adjoining areas of terraced housing where there is insufficient on-street parking to meet growing needs. This currently results in informal off-street parking either side of Flag Lane Bridge. It is understood that Cheshire East Council proposed to dispose of at least one of these informal sites, which will displace yet more parking demand. More off-street parking is required, not less. The developer proposes as mitigation the removal of a yellow line on Richard Moon Street. This is subject to statutory process, and so cannot be guaranteed, and cannot be take in to account. There must have been a safety reason for the original TRO, what has changed since?

4. The application would be contrary to Policies BE 1 and 2 of the Borough of Crewe and Nantwich Replacement Local Plan. The proposal is overdevelopment providing insufficient private amenity space. Plots 2, 3 and 4 have private amenity spaces of 30 to 32 sq. m. This is significantly less than the minimum standard of 50 sq.m., and has to include bin and cycle storage. There are no suitable areas outside the curtilage for safe play or recreation. Whilst the available space may be commensurate with adjacent dwellings, those dwellings were constructed before the streets were taken over by the motor car, and it is not appropriate to use them as a yardstick.

5. The new scheme provides bin storage within the curtilage of the proposed dwellings, but where will bins be left on collection day, and how will refuse vehicles access them? There will be further loss of parking if bins are left on the car park, with the potential obstruction of drivers’ sight lines.

6. There is no adequate provision for disabled access to 2 Browning Street. Notwithstanding the statements in para 5.8 of the Planning Statement, the occupier has submitted an objection. The ramped wheelchair access to the house is at the rear, and adequate space is required for access to nearby waiting vehicles. The development would also prevent access for maintenance to the end gable of 19 Richard Moon Street.

7. If approved, this development would set a precedent for the redevelopment of other free car parks which are essential for people employed in the town centre, especially those on low wages, and for the increasing number of residents in apartment and HMO conversions without off- street or on-street parking provision.

8. There are other alternative sites in the ownership of Cheshire East Council which could be developed for affordable housing, for example the former Macon House site.

9. This application would not be entertained if submitted by a private developer, and would not be considered in other parts of the Borough. It is shameful that having once been refused, a subsidiary of Cheshire East Council has re-submitted the scheme, and it should once again be refused.

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