Southend councillors urged to refuse permission for ‘poorly designed’ houses in Leigh-on-Sea

PLANNING officers have encouraged councillors to block a ‘poorly designed’ housing development in Leigh-on-Sea.

A developer has asked Southend Council for permission to build four semi-detached houses on a patch of land in Underwood Square, which was previously occupied by a single detached house.

A petition against the plan has been signed by 80 people and the council has received a further 16 letters about the proposal.

In these representations, residents raised almost 50 complaints about the plan.

Complaints included that the plan constituted ‘overdevelopment’ in the area, that the properties would be ‘overbearing’, that the development would be ‘cramped’ and that the extra properties would cause parking problems.

Leigh Town Council has also objected to the proposed development, saying the ‘design, bulk and mass’ of the proposed houses is ‘out of keeping with the area’.

It added that the parking facilities would have a negative visual impact.

The plot of land is described as being ‘a significant size, taking up almost the entire west side of the square’.

The previous house was demolished in 2017.

An application by the same developer – named in council documents only as Mr G Newton – to build a single detached house on part of the plot, was rejected last month.

Councillors turned it down on grounds that it would create ‘cramped’ conditions and ‘an undue sense of enclosure’ for a neighbouring property.

Mr Newton has now asked the council to permit construction of four two-storey homes on another part of the plot.

Two of the properties would be four-bedroom and two would be three-bedroom.

But council officers have advised councillors to reject the proposal, taking particular issue with the planned parking facilities.

Their report said: “There is significant concern in relation to the design and layout of the frontage.

“Each property has the required two off-street parking spaces, but for three of the four houses these are accessed by shared crossovers between the neighbouring properties.

“This has resulted in almost all the frontages being taken up with hard surfacing and a parking layout which has the allocated parking for house two in front of house one.

“This is unusual and very contrived and there is a concern that the development will be dominated by hard surfacing which will be to the detriment of the street scene.

“It is noted that most of the surrounding properties have off-street parking on their frontages, but this is balanced with significant areas of planting, which contributes to the overall leafy character of the square – its defining characteristic.”

Advising councillors to refuse planning permission, civil servants wrote: “The proposed development, by reason of its poorly designed and contrived forecourt parking layout, and in particular the extent of hardstanding proposed and lack of space for soft landscaping, would have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the site and the wider streetscene.”

The Development Control Committee will make its decision in a public meeting at the council offices today – Wednesday, December 11 – at 2pm.

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Charles Thomson

Chief ReporterEmail: [email protected]