Square Portfolio Estate Company, the owner of the red brick Co-op store and flats building on Fairview Rd, has submitted its planning application to create 12 flats and a gym for the Gym Group. The building will be re-modelled with a single storey infill extension and minor external alterations including the enlargement of existing windows and creation of new windows with associated parking and refuse store. The proposed twelve flats are the original four and an additional eight new ones. Because the eight are under the ten flats required to offer some ‘affordable’ ones, there is no provision for ‘affordable’ flats.
Shortly after the application was submitted to the Council, The Gym Group announced that its expansion plans were on ice due to the COVID-19 crisis:
It already has gyms within easy reach at 99-101 London Rd, 6 Suffolk House in George St, and 7 Streatham Approach.
The Existing and Proposed Flats
The building currently has four maisonette-style flats accessed at the rear by a shared stairwell, with three garages at ground floor level. These will be retained and refurbished. The developer originally talked about creating 8 flats, but has now increased this to 12, including the refurbishment of the original 4 and creating 8 new ones, including 2 in a proposed extension. (Para 3.9)
Ground Floor – 4 flats: (1) (1b-1p) – 37.6m2/404 sq.ft; (2) 2 (2b-3p) – 64.7m2/696 sq.ft; (3) (1b-1p) – 43.5m2/468 sq.ft; 4 (1b-1p) – 42.5m2/457 sq.ft.
First Floor – 6 flats: (5) (REFURB) (1b-2p) – 37.6m2/404 sq.ft; (6) (REFURB) (2b-3p) – 55.2m2/594 sq.ft; (7) (1b-1p) – 39.5m2/425 sq.ft; (8) (1b-2p) – 50.0m2/538 sq.ft; (9) (2b-3p) – 63.6m2/685 sq.ft; (10) (2b-4p) – 70.6m2/760 sq.ft.
Second Floor – 2 flats: (11) (REFURB) (1b-2p) – 37.6m2/404 sq.ft; (12) (REFURB) (2b-4p) – 64.8m2/697 sq.ft. (Para 3.10)
‘The proposed residential units will be built with high levels of sound insulation to ensure no noise is transmitted from the proposed gym use through walls and floors into the dwellings.’ (Para 5.36)
The Existing Service Yard
This is accessed from the rear of the site and provides access to a loading bay serving the Co-op. The proposed extension will be built in the loading bay area. (Para. 5.18)
‘To facilitate the conversion of parts of the building to residential use’ the existing windows will be enlarged, and new ones inserted at ground and first floor levels in the south and west facing elevations. (Para. 3.11)
The Shop Front and Signage
The existing shop front and signage will be replaced with that of The Gym Group, the signing to be subject of a separate planning application in due course.
Gym and Fitness Centre
The proposed gym and fitness centre will occupy 15,177sq. ft of the ground and first floor of the eastern part of the wider building to operate 24 hours a day.
The proposed occupier is The Gym Group ‘who aim to increase access to health and fitness activities to a wide demographic within the local community to encourage and improve health by providing a low cost and flexible gym membership option. The Gym provides a high quality but cheaper option for the health and fitness activity. (Planning Statement para. 3.7)
‘The operation includes a range of cardio-vascular (rowing, running, cycling) and resistance (weights) equipment. It will provide a new facility for residents and employees that will complement nearby services and facilities. Music will be limited to provide low-level background music only.’ (Para. 3.8)
Cars and Cycles
Apart from four disabled car parking spaces the scheme will be car free. Taking account its high PTAL rating, the development is likely to generate fewer trips overall. The gym use is expected to cater for a relatively local catchment with the vast majority of trips being by walking or public transport. The development would not result in a noticeable increase in pedestrian movements when compared with the existing retail use of the site.’
In addition to the proposed 4 parking spaces disabled use to be occupied by future residents, there will a bike store for 20 bicycles, all located in what will remain of the current service area. There will also be scope for electric cycle charging and the storage of mobility scooters. ‘Short-term on-street parking is available in the vicinity for visitors.’
A bin storage area will be provided.
The Planning Statement states that the developer considers ‘that the principle of bringing forward an increase in much needed new housing together with a health and fitness centre making efficient use of the existing building and bringing health and employment benefit to the local community are all supported by’ National, Local Plan and Croydon Local Plan policies.
‘The changes to the fenestration are all considered to be positive alterations to the premises. The existing building is of poor architectural merit and has a low level of fenestration that creates a rather austere building.’ The proposed enlarged windows will improve the appearance and increase ‘levels of natural surveillance’. The proposed new windows will create ‘a much more attractive and active elevations to this part of the building. Overall the changes to the building’s fenestration are considered to be positive alterations improving the relationship of the building with the street.’
The Need for the Gym
The Planning Statement says that the ‘proposed leisure use will provide a new use to the district centre that is currently not catered for and will be a benefit for the surround community by introducing a leisure facility, open 24 hours a day and providing new employment opportunities. The proposals will help increase the vitality and choice in this district centre.’ (Para 5.11)
The ‘proposed gym use can manage or control the transmission of noise and vibration to ensure the 24 hours gym use can coexist with the existing residential neighbours. (Para. 5.30)
The proposed operator The Gym Group ‘has considerable experience of operating similar 24-hour health and fitness operations and currently operates from over 180 locations nationwide. Through this experience the company has well-established and tried and tested measures to ensure that there are no harmful noise impact or disturbance on surrounding occupiers. The operating management procedures will be adopted so that the proposed 24-hour gym use will not adversely impact upon the residential or other uses in the surrounding area.’ (Para 5.31; see also 5.35)
‘From an assessment of visitors to other similar operations around the country and the scale and nature of the operation proposed, only 9.29% of visits are made between the hours of 23:00 and 06:00, with very minimal attendance between 00:00 and 06:00. Due to the nature of the gym use, members attending between these hours tend to do so on an individual basis, rather than as part of groups, and comprises those working shifts, such as emergency service personnel. As such, the potential for any impact in terms of noise and disturbance during these hours is limited and the extended hours of operation of the unit would not result in additional harm to the amenity of adjoining neighbouring or surrounding properties.’ (Para. 5.32)
‘Access to the property is strictly controlled. Between the hours of 8am and 8pm the front door of the premises will be open, and access will be afforded to the lobby. At this point a two-door portal will be in operation which requires a personal entry code to be entered into a keypad and restricts access to one person at a time only. The pin code enables The Gym to record attendance within the premises. The full height glazed partitions and portals also provide a barrier to noise transmitting from the main body of the gym via the accesses. (Para. 5.39)
The Proposed Extension
The proposed extension will not cause ‘adverse impacts in terms of overlooking or loss of privacy.’ It ‘will use materials to match the existing building and windows proportions and design will also reflect the existing situation. The location of the extension means it is not a significant feature in the street scene and in terms of all other considerations is considered to be acceptable.’ (Para 5.18)
The Size Of The Flats
‘Due to the lack of amenity space available on the site all apartments are over the related space standards. There is also access to a number of areas of public open space in the vicinity including Norbury Hall Park, Norbury Park and Mitcham Common.’ (Para 5.21)
Carbon Emissions and Energy Efficiency
A separate ‘Energy Statement looks at carbon emission, energy efficient and green issues relating to the application. The report concludes that ‘a 35% reduction in CO2 emissions can be achieved through the successful application of the lean, clean, green energy hierarchy approach incorporating the use of a PV solar system and high efficiency boilers.’ (Planning Statement. Para. 5.48)
‘The site is not located within an area of opportunity for district heating identified by the Council and there is currently no feasible opportunity for connecting to any existing or planned off-site heating networks.’ (Energy Statement.
The applicant proposes:
- the use of Localised Heating, low energy lighting and intelligent energy management processes and systems to reduce equipment energy consumption.
- that onsite renewable energy in the form of a 32kWp flat roof mounted Solar PV system is installed on the existing flat roof of the building.
- that coupling PV with the localised heating, ventilation and lighting system produces renewable heat and light energy.
- enhanced daylight and lighting controls which dim down and/or switch off when not required;
- energy efficient luminaires will be specified throughout, specifically LED lighting;
- mechanical ventilation with heat recovery;
- reduced heat gains and glare control through installation of fixed internal blinds and suitable solar control glazing specification to reduce the need for mechanical cooling;
- comprehensive metering strategy interfaced with Building Management System (BMS).
The proposed heating system is a wet radiator system which can be easily attached to a district heating network at a future date by bypassing the boilers on site.
Proposed Renewable Installation
‘The most suitable renewable energy solution for the initial design of the scheme is a localised roof mounted Solar PV system for each dwelling. A 2kWp system supplied to each dwelling and a 10kWp system supplied to the gym will satisfy the Local Authority Planning Core Strategy.’ (Energy Statement. Para 3.3.3)
‘A Renewable Energy Feasibility Report will be produced at the detailed design stage to provide a more in-depth study of the site wide and dwelling energy demand. The Report will give specific recommendations and a detailed strategy of how the Local Authority Planning Core Strategy will be met during the construction phase. It may be determined at that stage that an alternative renewable energy solution is preferred.’
It is estimated that the energy and green measures in combination with Green renewable Solar PV will achieve an 20% reduction in CO2 emissions and a 35% improvement over mandatory target emissions rates. (Energy Statement. Para 3.3.4)
Green Infrastructure Plan
‘A green infrastructure plan will be produced for the development’ to protect and improve the existing biodiversity and geodiversity of the development site…’ However, ‘as the existing building has little to no existing biodiversity or geodiversity and with limited outdoor space for the development of such, the plan will be very limited in scope.’ (Energy Statement. Para 3.3.5)
- Is the increase to 12 flats sufficient contribution to the housing target for Norbury under the Croydon Local Plan? If not what should the maximum number be?
- Can the Council negotiate a proportion of flats to be treated as ‘affordable’?
- Will the Council refuse the application in the hope that it can persuade the developer to provide additional flats to ensure an ‘affordable’ element?
- Given there are four disability car parking spaces, which flats will be especially created for use by future residents with disabilities, and have their space sizes been assessed by disability planning advisers?
- How many flats will be subject to the ‘affordable’ housing requirements, and which categories of ‘affordable’ will they be part of?
- Given the COVID crisis has highlighted the problems of people living in flats without access to outside amenity space and balconies, can the flats be redesigned to ensure that lunges and kitchens are separate spaces, enabling different activities to take place by different members of a household?
- Given the lack of amenity space provided, can the solar panel proposals for the roof be re-designed in order to enable to creation of a roof garden?
- Can balconies be provided for the flats on the first and second floor?
- Can a green wall be created for part of the side of the building along Fairview Rd from London Rd?
- Given the Council’s zero carbon policy what further measures can be undertaken to increase the reduction on carbon emissions and increase the energy efficiency of the building?
- Can a Combined Heat & Power facility be provided large enough to be able to offer the supply of electricity to the London Rd shops and flats in the stretch next to the proposed Co-op Local Store, to businesses and flats on the stretch of London Rd towards Stanford Rd, and the housing association properties in Scott Close.
- What market research has been carried out into the demand in Norbury for a gym of the type proposed?
- Can a wider range of activity and leisure options be offered in the gym?
- Is there any evidence that the 24-hour running of gym facilities encourages crime against customers letting themselves in the buildings between 8pm and 8am?
- Is there any evidence that problems involved in members gaining access to 24/7 gyms between 8pm and 8am leads to excessive setting off of burglar alarms, the noise of which will be detrimental to residential neighbours?
- Given the potential for accidents to members between 8am and 8am, what provision to being made for staff assistance, including first aid?
- If the event of the need for access to the emergency services to the building in the event of personal injury to a member while exercising, what system will be used to alert the emergency services and enable them access to the building?
- Will the Council insist that a Health and Fitness Operation Note be submitted before the close the public consultation period?
Possible Planning Conditions
As the application is for outline permission the Council will approve a number of conditions requiring the submission of detailed applications of different elements of the building. The Council has a standard bank of relevant conditions on such things as building materials to be used, and a requirement for a Construction Management Plan.
The Construction Management Plan will need to address the parking of construction vehicles and supplies, and any works required to public utility piping and wiring required along Fairview Rd and how this will be accommodated without interfering with the delivery vehicle and customer parking associated with the Co-op Local Store. (*)
The following are possible conditions that would not normally be considered.
(1) An agreement with the Fire Brigade and the Council’s Building Control setting out agreed fire escape arrangements to be submitted before the start of work on site.
(2) A statement setting out water efficiency measures to be submitted and approved by the Council prior to the start of work on site.
(3) The Gym shall be operated in accordance with the provisions of a Health and Fitness Operation Note, including how injuries to members between 8pm and 8am will be dealt with, to be submitted and approved before the start on work on site. (*)
(4) The premises shall be used as a health and fitness centre only and for no other purpose (including any other purpose in the same Use Class). Reason: as a case has been made for permitting this particular use and to enable the local planning authority to control the use of the building. (*)
(5) No sale of any items (food, beverages, clothing, fashion accessories, shoes, and sporting goods, or books in relation to health, fitness, exercise and nutrition is permitted except related for the purposes and use of the Gym by members, for sale to members. (*)
(*) Adapted from Report by the Director of Environment & Neighbourhood services Reading Borough Council. Item no. 18. Planning Applications Committee. 3 June 2015.
You can see all the application documents and submit your comments:
The key documents mentioned above can be downloaded here:
The closing date for comments is 25 April
So far one objection has been submitted from 12 Fairview Rd. Unfortunately the Council does not post the text of comments, so the grounds for objection are not known.
The site is in the area covered by Norbury Village Residents Association. Its Committee will consider (by email and phone) what comments to make. Whether or not live in the NVRA area or note please set out your views to this blog posting so they know what you are thinking, or email: