Proposals to replace Bridge House (opposite Waitrose) with a much taller and more massive building are facing strong objections. Planning Application EBC 2018/2989 – Bridge House, 41-45 High Street, seeks to replace the current three storey building with a far bigger five storey rectangular building, housing three retail units and 28 flats.
The site is next to the Monument Green Conservation Area, and the new building would dominate the streetscene in a very different style.
Onsite parking would be reduced to 20, and the 28 flats would have to share 17 spaces, risking severe loss of nearby on-street parking amenity in an area already under great parking stress. The three retail units would each have one space.
Central Weybridge has attractive conservation areas, with some lovely buildings at either end of the High Street, separated by a mix of traditional gabled buildings and the results of some poor quality post-modern planning of the 1970s.
Bridge House is one of those 1970s buildings. It sits next to Monument Green Conservation Area, and is visibly out of keeping. Thankfully it is low enough not to dominate entirely, but it has little else to commend it, and some people think it is an eyesore because of its vertical and angular style.
Many residents hope that any redevelopment of the 1970s mistakes would be more in sympathy with the character of our historic Weybridge townscape. There is a real opportunity with any redevelopment in Weybridge High Street to create new buildings which are in harmony with the traditional setting.
This application fails to take that opportunity. Instead it tries to cram the largest mass of building it can seek to justify, into a constrained site, regardless of the negative impact.
Dominating height and mass
The current application would dominate and detract from the charm of the Conservation Area, and be detrimental to the streetscene. The proposed new five storey building would be over 50% taller than the current three storey Bridge House (reaching up to the label in our picture above), and would stand out far more prominently next to the Conservation Area.
The streetscene plan shows it alongside its neighbours, and the contrast in bulk, mass and height.
To find out more about the plans and make comments: search for 2018/2989 at www.elmbridge.gov.uk/planning
Comments to Elmbridge Borough Council are invited by 14 Dec, but will be accepted at email@example.com after that. The application will be considered by the planning sub-committee at some date in the new year.
PPDRA has submitted the following objection to Elmbridge Borough Council Planning Services:
Re: Application 2018/2989 – Bridge House, 41-45 High Street, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 8BB
I am writing on behalf of the committee of Portmore Park & District Residents Association to object to the proposed construction of a five storey building comprising 3 retail units and 28 flats.
There is great concern among local residents about its negative impact on our town, in terms of:
- excessive bulk and mass resulting in the building dominating the streetscene
- excessive height making it dominate views from the Monument Green Conservation Area
- the façade clashing with the traditional buildings in the High Street and Conservation Area
- inadequate parking provision (17 spaces for the proposed 28 flats), increasing an already high level of local on-street parking stress, to the detriment of local amenities
Impact of height, bulk and appearance
The proposed building is massive. At five storeys, it would dwarf its neighbours and tower above the Monument Green Conservation Area.
The building’s appearance would be entirely at odds with the traditional buildings in the High Street and conservation area. It offers no architectural nod to the predominant traditional local architectural styles. People are asking if it was inspired by a multi-storey car park. Surely a new building in this prominent site should take the opportunity of complementing its surroundings?
The strong horizontal and vertical elements of the proposed development would overwhelm its neighbours’ historic brick, slate and gables. It would loom over the southern part of the conservation area, and would dominate the view from the north.
Impact of inadequate parking provision
How does the parking provision comply with Elmbridge Parking Standards? We understood these to specify 1.5 spaces per two bedroom unit:
Elmbridge Parking Standards for Residential Parking (DMP Appendix 1)
Locational Characteristics Town Centre/ Edge of Centre
- 1 bed residential unit : 1 space per unit
- 2 bed residential unit : 1.5 space per unit
This suggests that with 9 two bed and 19 one bed flats there should be 33 spaces (9 x 1.5 + 19) for the residential units, rather than the 17 proposed.
Elmbridge Development Management Plan Policy DM7 states:
“The proposed parking provision should be appropriate to the development and not result in an increase in on-street parking stress that would be detrimental to the amenities of local residents.”
Yet this application proposes reducing total number of parking spaces on the site from 28 to 20, while greatly increasing the number of residential units.
The roads adjacent to Weybridge High Street face what some residents describe as a worsening parking crisis, as successive new infill developments and changes to residential use have been permitted by Elmbridge with limited or no parking provision.
These roads include a lot of Victorian/Edwardian homes, with relatively narrow frontages and with limited or no off-street parking. Hence many residents have to rely on being able to find somewhere to park on the street. That has become increasingly difficult.
Surely Elmbridge Borough Council, as our town planning authority, should be working to improve the amenities of local residents, rather than adding to problems?
We sincerely hope that after considering Application 2018/2989, Elmbridge Borough Council will refuse this application, because with its excessive height, bulk and mass the building would dominate the street scene, with negative impact on views from and towards the Conservation Area, and because its adequate parking provision would cause additional on-street parking stress detrimental to the amenities of residents, failing to comply with acceptable standards.