A DEVELOPER whose flats near the Kingshill roundabout may yet have to be demolished has applied to build more on the same site.
The maisonette block in Westcott Place has more bedrooms than agreed by Swindon Borough Council, which turned down a retrospective application last May. Planners recommended enforcement action, which can include knocking the building down.
Rodbourne-based Overview Management appealed that decision and has now lodged an application to build two maisonette apartments between what will be two identical blocks of four.
It already has permission to build the second block on cleared ground alongside. The new application says a gap of just over four metres between the two blocks was kept to allow construction but “there were concerns the access would be used for illegal parking. This application would rectify that.”
The plan is to construct the new blocks identically to the existing ones, so they form a complex of 10 maisonettes in what otherwise look like a row of terraced houses.
The land was bought several years ago by the council by compulsory purchase in order to demolish a derelict terrace and was unused for some time.
The overview application says the plan will address the borough’s housing needs and bring the land back into use.
But there is one significant problem.
The first of the blocks of four, which stand closest to the roundabout junction, do not have planning permission. Overview Management was given permission for the development of four one-bed flats in 2015.
But because the first-floor flats were built with two bedrooms – the second bedroom using the roof space – that permission was invalid.
The developer applied for permission to keep the buildings as constructed last year, but that was refused.
Overview Management appealed against that decision and said if it had to remove the second bedrooms the tenants of the flats would have to leave and could be homeless – in turn becoming the responsibility of the borough council.
That did not convince planning inspector S Shapland, who refused the appeal in November and said: “I have found that the proposal results in a significant harm to the character and appearance of the area.”
Overview Management’s planning agent is Robert Keech, who runs Keech Design and Build.
He said the application for the two flats was “an entirely separate matter” to the issues with the first four maisonettes, but said he could not comment on what was to be done about making the building compliant with planning.