RUSHMOOR BOROUGH COUNCIL PLANNING REPORT No PLN1337 RELATING TO APPLICATION 13/00512/FULPP
Date Valid 26th July 2013
Expiry date of consultations 10th September 2013
Address Tumbledown Dick Hotel, 227 Farnborough Road, Farnborough
Summary – Rebuttal by Friends of the Tumbledown Dick
• The Friends of the Tumbledown Dick have co-ordinated and sent in a paper Petition containing 1411 signatures and an Online Petition containing 3042 signatures.
In total The Friends of the Tumbledown Dick supplied Rushmoor Borough Council with a hardcopy and online Petition with 5,134 signatures after 106 were removed for being incorrect. This 5,134 represents 5.22% of Rushmoor’s overall population. It is important to note these correct and non-aggregated figures.
Cllr Barbara Hurst (St John’s Ward)
• Cllr Hurst states: “Both are in marked contrast to the standards that prevailed formerly”
There is no evidence that the Tumbledown Dick was a source of anti-social behaviour. Local newspaper articles from the time highlight the community work that Staff did, and how well received their efforts were. Crime figures from the time do not reflect that the Tumbledown Dick was the source of such prevalent low standards of hygiene or anti-social behaviour implied by Cllr Hurst.
• Cllr Hurst comments on “the lack of historical/architectural interest in the existing building”
At no point has any archaeological investigations been undertaken by either the owners, leaseholders, Turley Associates or Rushmoor Borough Council to firmly refute that the original 1640 is not incorporated into the organic building that is currently on site, having grown and added to with each passing century.
It needs to be noted that Councillor Hurst has previously been quoted in the local papers saying she believes the building holds no historic merit and she is clearly bias. Her other role as Secretary for The Farnborough Society is in direct contrast to these statements, she has publicly stated that she would prefer a purpose built venue and would therefore never be in support of our bid to save the Tumbledown Dick. Despite her comments relating to the lack of historic merit of the building, Council should note that even McDonald’s own Historic Building Assessment states “there seems no reason to doubt that a public house has stood on the site now occupied by The Tumbledown Dick since at least the late 17th Century. It appears in Ogilbys Britannia in 1674 and in 1686 it is recording as having 5 bed and stabling for 5 horses.”
The assessors accept that it is technically possible that the original building shown in Thomas Rowlandson’s painting dated 1782-84 to be present to this date and now known as Building 1. No archaeological tests have been conducted by ANY party to disprove this.
• Policy CPI of the Core Strategy – Point of relevance are to permit to development which make efficient use of resources, including buildings, considerations of climate change, no substantial harm to, or loss of significance of, heritage assets and the use of sustainable construction methods and waste minimisation. The re-use of building/site consistent with Policy CP1 relating to making the efficient use of buildings.
By demolishing the original stable block, the back section and outer buildings the applicant will be in breach of CP1 by causing substantial harm and loss to a heritage asset that is a Building of Local Importance!
• The applicants have indicated that the current lease lasts for another 10 years and from the submitted Planning Statement infer that there is little prospect of the facility re-opening during this period if planning permission is not secured.
This veiled threat is unacceptable and should not be consider in the planning process. How can the Planning Department allow an internationally registered development company to bully them into doing the wrong thing? This is not a material planning consideration and should not be included in the assessing report as it is prejudicial to the process.
The Development Control Committee are not allowed to be swayed by matters relating to Commercial Leasehold and Freehold decisions, and it is highly inappropriate for this to form part of the Officers recommendations as it breaches the Council’s legal obligations, particularly as this is a Heritage Asset.
• Farnborough Town Centre SP4 – supports the diversification of uses outside the primary shopping area.
The area of the Farnborough Road that the Tumbledown Dick is sited on already has a plethora of fast food and take-aways. An additional take-away in this area is not diversification.
• The proposal will bring back into use a long-term vacant unit.
The Tumbledown Dick is not a long term vacant unit, but a heritage asset that in addition to publican services provided dedicated live music venue, hotel accommodation and staff housing.
• A minimum of 65 jobs
These jobs are varied but will be part and full time, with zero hour contracts and the minimum wage. This should be unacceptable and as a minimum all staff should get the Rushmoor Living Wage. Whilst McDonald’s make much of the new 65 jobs to be created, they make no mention of the loss of jobs elsewhere as a consequence of this development, in particular the take-aways opposite which are for the most part family run independent businesses.
• Considered to be consistent with Core Strategy Policy SP4
This is not a fair representation as this relates to vacant retail outlets and not homes, pubs and hotels!
• Core with a broad range of shops and services and to encourage the development of the evening economy.
As a business aimed at families with young children, they will not be utilising the proposed development in the evening, thereby reducing the possible evening economy. A large drive through will not create an evening economy!
• The SPD key principles are:
o create a route leading from the station to the town centre and beyond which is attractive and safe to pedestrians to use
o to provide new housing in a location which is well placed to take advantage of its proximity to the town centre’s shops and facilities and the transport interchange.
By demolishing and changing the use of the current building, there will be a breach in this policy as you will be removing housing options and creating an area with more cars and likelihood for additional accidents especially to pedestrians.
• Paragraph 70 of NPNF considers community facilities – “Guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly this would reduce the community’s ability to meet its day-to-day needs”
By demolishing the only live music venue in Farnborough, the Council will not be guarding protecting the residents of Farnborough day-to-day needs and are in fact placing the health and wellbeing of said residents in danger.
• There is little justification current site holds value as a service/facility that meets day-to-day needs.
The campaign to protect the Tumbledown Dick and bring it back into community use, highlights the value the community of Rushmoor places on this site/building.
• This would suggest that the day-to-day need, in respect of a public house function, can be met elsewhere.
Yes the needs are met with regard to pub function but Farnborough doesn’t have a dedicated live music and function room, the Tumbledown Dick was and is the only one in the area. Therefore the full needs of the community are not being met as inferred in the assessing report by the Planning office.
• As a Local Authority, the onus should be on us to promote opportunities for meetings between member of the community, and the proposed use of this site as a restaurant in the town centre would go some way to achieving this.
A McDonald’s Drive Thru Restaurant is not conducive to meetings, as a fast moving site it is expected that the turn around of tables will be high, so that profits can be maximised. People will not be able to meet with friends over a coffee for long periods of time nor will business people think it’s a suitable venue to conduct meetings. It is preposterous to suggest that a McDonald’s restaurant can aid the council in meeting its legal obligations to provide meeting facilities and as such this should not have been included in the Officers report in support.
• The Glossary definition of a community facility within the Core Strategy is written in a flexible manner in that it does not provide a definitive list. (please read full paragraph)
It is unacceptable that the Council’s Planning Officer has not conducted the relevant tests with regard to the Tumbledown Dick. This facility was not just a pub as stated but also a dedicated live music venue with accommodation for staff and customers alike, who were in the majority of cases those most in need or vulnerable within Rushmoor. We ask that the Development Control Committee seek to have the relevant tests applied to the Tumbledown Dick prior to hearing the planning application.
All of page 43 refers to the Asset of Community Value status and the Community Right to Bid.
It must be noted that the Localism Act is a relatively new piece of legislation with many test cases being reviewed and no set precedents to date. Therefore legal opinion can be divided and different elements of the Act open to interpretation by different legal advisors.
The community Right to Bid is a separate to Asset of Community Value status. We accept that the Community Right to Bid cannot be enacted at present and that if the moratorium period does become applicable that the owners are under no legal obligation to sell to the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick or indeed any other community group.
However noting a building as a Community Asset is a separate issue. RBC has listed the Tumbledown Dick after following their due process and applying the criteria detailed within the statutory instruments of the Localism Act. This was not done so lightly and legal advice was sought at the time. It is unfathomable that now whilst fighting the Owners appeal with the First Tier tribunal, that a Planning Officer can say that there is little weight to the Asset of Community Value status.
The strength of feeling surrounding the Tumbledown Dick, the numerous objections, the petition and the on-going campaign to save the building all highlight that it IS an Asset of Community Value, much wanted by the Community of Farnborough and wider Rushmoor.
The Community Right to Bid needs to be reviewed separately to Asset of Community Value.
In addition to date the council have made no policy decisions detailing Assets of Community Value and whether or not they are material planning considerations. This should have been done when RBC put the relevant policy and process in place, as per the Guidance issue by DCLG in October 2012.
Therefore the statement from the Planning Officer :
“In light of the particular circumstances relating to this case, it is considered that little weight should be given to the ACV designation in determining this proposal” – page 44
Is irrelevant and prejudicial, as the council has not published its policy, nor consulted on whether or not ACV status should be a material planning consideration. And in this case it is clear that the Tumbledown Dick is an Asset of Community Value and as such should be afforded protection.
In addition the planning officer states:
• The current owner of the site has indicated that, aside from the proposed sale of the site to the applicant, it has no present intention of selling it upon the basis that the existing lease of the site does not expire until 2022.
Much has been made at previous Development Control committee meetings that the Council cannot interfere in commercial Leasehold and Freeholder matters. Therefore it is highly unacceptable that the Planning officer should seek to sway the Development Control Committee by inferring that unless they accept and grant this development, the building will remain as is with no prospects for the foreseeable future.
• The Conservation Officer has been consulted on this application and confirms that there is a presumption in favour of the conservation of heritage assets. The conservation thereof should be in a manner appropriate and proportionate to the significance of the heritage asset.
Whilst we applaud the Conservation Officer for their views, we are astounded that RBC are so willing to overlook the evidence regarding the heritage importance of this building. Much has been argued on all sides about the age of the building, but none disputes that a public house in various incantations has been on site since the early 1600s. Indeed this predates most of Farnborough which grew up around the site. As such a proper archaeological survey should take part on the site and within the building to correctly date it, so that we can satisfy the people of Farnborough and the Council alike that this IS one of the most important heritage sites/buildings in Farnborough and should be protected from demolition.
The Tumbledown Dick has been recognised as being important historically locally, English Heritage acknowledged that although it didn’t meet the stringent criteria for national listing, that they had no doubt that it was significant to the history and people of Farnborough.
• The existing building and site are not considered to make a positive contribution to the character of the area.
It must be noted that the Freedom of Information request received from the Council by the Friends of the Tumbledown Dick, shows that since its closure in 2008 the owners and leaseholders have continually and wilfully ignored any attempts by RBC to get them to maintain the building to an acceptable standard. In many instances both freeholder and leaseholder claimed the other was responsible but neither took any steps to rectify the situation.
It is unacceptable that this heritage asset can be penalised for the wilful neglect that is has suffered over the years and as such the statement by the planning officer to this affect should not be considered.
• Many objections have referred to the impact of litter on the environment.
McDonald’s have assured the Planning Officer that they conduct regular litter patrols and that these patrols, along with rubbish facilities, have alleviated any material planning considerations.
Over the last few months we have been gathering evidence to show, that despite litter patrols and sufficient rubbish bins at Farnborough Gate, there is a significant litter problem which necessitates rat traps and other pest control measures. In addition our evidence shows that litter is not just discarded in the immediate vicinity but also further afield.
Increase in litter and associated pests will be an issue to the Town Centre if this development is allowed to go ahead. Pictures below illustrate Litter found at Farnborough Gate McDonald’s after the Litter Patrol has taken place. We have hundreds of similar photographs from all over Farnborough.
This page relates to noise. It must be noted that over the last three months the Development Control Committee have green lighted several developments that will substantially increase the ambient noise levels in the town Centre, on the Farnborough Road and along Victoria Road. These ambient noise levels will increase both during the day and at night.
• The Council’s Care and Cycle Parking Standards SPD require a maximum of 53 parking spaces for a restaurant of 264.9m2 (on the basis of a maximum of 1 space for 5m2 of dining area).
The proposed restaurant will have 34 spaces, with two of those being allocated to grill bays and not useable at all times. Therefore there will be 32 parking spaces including 2 disabled bays.
Parking is an issue and despite the Planning Officer noting there is a multi-storey car park next door, it has to be noted that potential customers wishing to use the proposed development will not pay to park to grab a fast meal.
In the last three months several developments have been green lighted by the Development Control Committee that will significantly impact on the amount of cars entering the Town Centre and the amount of parking required, in all instances the Planning Officer stated that the increased requirement for parking could be met by the Kingsmead Multi-storey and the Sainburys’ Car Park. This assumption means that the Kingsmead and Sainsbury’s car parks will be at capacity before you add in this proposed development!
A proposed restaurant of this size will need minimum numbers of staff and management at all times, but during peak and greater staff numbers. These staff will need parking, as many will be travelling to and from work by car or motorbike. In this case if we presume 20 staff minimum with 55% needing car-parking at any point, a further 16 spaces will be taken up by staff alone. Leaving only 16 spaces including the 2 disabled bays!
In the Highway Comments from Rushmoor Borough Council contained within McDonald’s Traffic Assessment it states:
“The proposal is for a restaurant with a dining 315m2 and a drive thru kiosk and pick up point. Our parking standard would require for the size of the restaurants the car park to provide 1 car parking space for every 5m2, therefore a car park with 63 spaces is required. The site layout provided gives a car park with 30 spaces plus 2 disabled spaced is proposed. This is not sufficient.
The site layout shows a potential route for pedestrians from the adjacent Sainsbury’s car park which would give the linkage to the town centre that has been encouraged during pre-application discussions, however I would not expect it to be acceptable to consider this (which is not certain) as alternative parking for this facility.”
HCC also stated in the same Traffic Assessment:
“The new layout does result in a reduction in the number of parking spaces when compared to the previous layout and an assessment of the likely parking accumulation will have to be considered understand whether this is acceptable”
• Further to this it can be expected that a significant number of trips associated with the new McDonald’s restaurant and drive thru will be by vehicles that are already on the network.
If there are going to be no new journeys or vehicles on the road even after opening the proposed restaurant, surely this shows no demand for it and that those already on the network can be serviced by the facilities already in existence at Farnborough Gate?
• It is some 570 meters walking distance to the closest school.
According to Google Maps it is 0.2 of a mile driving distance from the Tumbledown Dick to the gates of St Peter’s School. In addition our own walking calculation shows it to be 389m utilising recognised routes and crossings. It is therefore recommended that the Development Control Committee review the Planning Officers statements is a questioning manner.
Government guidelines state that Fast Food outlets should not be allowed to be opened within a 400m distance of a school or nursery facility.
• Therefore recognising that healthy eating may be a material consideration, in this case it is considered little weight should be given to this issue in respect of this proposal.
It is unacceptable that the health and well-being of the people of Farnborough is not a material planning consideration and that it is acceptable to ignore them.
• The NPPF also advises that planning policies and decisions should aim to achieve places which safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion.
There is much said locally about the anti-social behaviour that takes place at Farnborough Gate, namely the congregating of cars and young people, playing their car radios loudly, revving their engines and generally making a nuisance. Many in the community are concerned that this activity will move to the proposed restaurant with a Town centre location, making it a worrying place and somewhere they would feel intimidated and fearful. By allowing this proposed development, you will be creating an atmosphere in complete contradiction to the NPPF.