AN ‘OFFICE-LIKE’ residential flat scheme was thrown out by councillors – despite officers’ recommendation for approval.

An amended planning application to demolish an existing building to develop a 41-unit, five-storey building at the former Willow Tree, 62, Station Road, Langley was refused by members of the planning committee on July 29 (Wednesday).

The application comprises of 15 two-bedroom flats, 23 one-bedroom flats, three studio flats, 28 car parking spaces including two disabled bays, cycle storage, and a plant room proposed in the south west corner of the site, accessed from Alderbury Road.

The site would be aligned with two two-storey houses, 117 and 119 Alderbury Road – but concerns were raised this development would result in a loss of privacy for the homeowners.

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The vote was evenly split – where the chair of the panel, councillor Haqeeq Dar (Labour: Wexham Lea) had the final say to refuse the application on the grounds the building is out of character compared to the existing houses, overdevelopment, and impact on neighbours in terms of parking and loss of privacy.

A previous scheme on the same site was unanimously rejected by members on the same grounds as the other application.

That old plan was slightly larger as it was part three, part four, and part six-storeys high to accommodate 51 flats with 21 park spaces – and the officers recommended this scheme should be refused.

Speaking against the application, councillor Dexter Smith (Conservative: Colnbrook with Poyle) said: “This development looks to me overdeveloped and out of character with the residential area.

“I would’ve thought if we were going to have a flatted development next to two-storey houses, it would be closer to something to Scholars Walk in terms of height and appearance.

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“What we actually got is something that looks very much like an office block and it is at height well above Scholars Walk – which in itself was set more to the height of the college next to it rather than the residential properties.

“The fact that it’s on the crest of a hill, even if that’s more in terms of its visual appearance, just exacerbates that.

“To my mind there’s nothing that justifies a five-storey building.”

Councillor Ted Plenty (Labour: Langley St Mary’s) added that parking has been an issue for Station Road and neighbouring Alderbury Road and that this development would lead to an ‘overspill’ of on-street parking in the neighbourhoods.

It was also suggested this type of development is more for town centres rather than a residential street.

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However, the applicant, Nicola Broderick, argued the developer had ‘gone back to the drawing board’ to address these issues by scrapping one floor, lowering the number of flats by ten, increasing parking provision, and scrapping terraces on the west side of the building to reduce loss of privacy.

She added no residents moving into the proposed flats would not be allowed to apply parking permits at Alderbury Road, resulting into no ‘overspill’.

Planning officers agreed that this new scheme and the buildings modern appearance is deemed acceptable for the area and should be approved by councillors – but most panel members disagreed, saying the development is ‘too big’ and the characteristics were not in keeping with the street.

A second vote happened on reasons to refuse the application where only councillor Pav K. Mann (Labour: Britwell and Northbough), lead member for planning, abstained.