Plan to add 35 apartments to Bracknell Lavenir building delayed

A controversial plan to add 35 apartments to The Future building in Bracknell has been delayed.

The owners of L’avenir want to add 35 apartments and two floors to the three-story building.

The future was built in 1988 and was once an office building, but was converted to residential use with 69 apartments in 2017.

If approved, 35 one- and two-bedroom apartments would have been added through a roof extension, bringing the total number of apartments to 104 and making the building five storeys.

Yet the developer’s hopes were dashed when Bracknell Forest Council’s planning committee chose to postpone its decision.

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The plan proved controversial, as it received 44 objections from neighbors and current residents of L’avenir.

A similar plan to add 45 apartments to L’avenir was ultimately rejected in August 2019, and that rejection was upheld on appeal last year.

The first apartments were occupied in the building in August 2020.

In a deadly attack, Deborah Harvey called the plan a “monstrous extension” that would tower over the houses where she lives in Primrose Walk, which is made up of two-storey houses.

Speaking at the meeting, Deborah Harvey said: ‘The developer wants to maximize profits at the expense of local people, without any additional social housing, this has not changed since the appeal. 69 apartments are enough.

“There are many empty apartments in the future. Estate agents fail to sell them, and this before the additional 35 offered. The new tenants of L’avenir are on long-term leases, and have not subscribed to this disturbance and noise, which highlights the developer’s arrogance towards the existing tenants.

“It is morally reprehensible for the local population. Bracknell Council, please help your local residents and vote no!

Neighbors also objected to the increase in the number of apartments due to fears that car parking could overflow onto neighboring streets.

However, the building has above the parking requirement. While Bracknell Forest Council needs 150 car parking spaces in a development like this, The Future has 167 spaces in total, with 86 in the basement and 81 on the ground floor.

PEAK

Tony Allan, speaking on behalf of the developer, reminded the committee that the plan is subject to “permitted development”.

Permitted development is a planning loophole that allows offices to be converted into homes without having to go through typical planning processes that involve agents and councilors judging plans.

Mr Allan said: ‘The most basic planning issue here to understand is what is granted by the Government through the General Permitted Development Ordinance, regardless of any previous planning history at the site, including including the appeal decision.

“In effect, what the ordinance grants is planning permission, in this case, two additional floors of flats. Based on this, the principle of such a development, including its height and scale , is beyond the discretion of the planning authority.

However, if the principle of 35 apartments cannot be rejected, the developers must demonstrate how they will mitigate the impact of their proposals on the residents and those who already live in the building.

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Members of the planning committee felt that there was insufficient evidence of mitigation, so pre-approval of the plan was unanimously deferred.

The motion to defer was moved by Councilor Colin Dudley, Chair of the Committee (Conservative, Crown Wood).

You can view the extension plan for The Future by putting reference 21/00361/PAR in the Bracknell Forest Council planning portal here: https://planapp.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/online-applications/ .

Developers must now submit more evidence demonstrating how the impact of the increased floor will be mitigated.

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