9 Kelvyn Lodge, Victoria Grove, Southsea, Portsmouth    

Consent was sought to fell 2 No. trees covered by a Tree Preservation Order, which had caused damage to the property’s original front brick wall, which had dangerously bowed out onto the pavement.  Consent was also sought to fell two other trees which were not covered by the Order but afforded some protection from being within a Conservation Area.

Acting as project manager, ACHIEVE, procured the services of ASC to prepare the drawings, Bob Angus Tree Services to advise on tree condition and Martin Reynolds Associates to prepare a structural engineer’s report on the wall condition.

A pre-application meeting was held with the client and the council’s tree officer, who recommended that replacement tree planting of an appropriate species should form part of the application and gave good advice on issues to be covered in a supporting planning statement.  The council’s Conservation Officer was also approached in writing but never responded to the request to meet on site.

With this diligent preparatory work, the applications were quickly approved under Portsmouth City Council references 19/01695/TPO and 19-01760/COT.

A parallel application was also made for the demolition of the front wall, salvaging of materials and its reconstruction, leaving an opening to allow off-street parking, following demolition of a non-original conservatory, hard-surfacing and related dropped kerb.  A further site meeting was held with the council’s contractor to understand where the dropped kerb could be positioned.

Initially, the opening was to be gated to provide continued enclosure to the street and security for the client.  When it became clear that the highway engineer would not support gates and the relative width of the opening, amended plans were quickly procured and submitted to omit the gates and an analysis of all current vehicular openings to boundary walls within the Conservation Area was undertaken to support the amended proposals.

The engineer had also recommended a design solution which was not only harmful to the appearance of the Conservation Area, but was also physically impossible to achieve.  No advice was offered by officers on the acceptability of an automatic gate system, remotely controlled, even though the council had given permission to such a solution elsewhere in the Conservation Area under reference 13/00481/HOU.

Some small hope was held out by contacting a Ward Councillor, who was prepared to ask for the matter to come to the Planning Committee to allow ACHIEVE to plead the case of the client.

Unfortunately, a delegated refusal was issued and the client is now deciding whether to Appeal this and/or re-submit, not showing a vehicular opening, merely offering demolition of the damaged section of the wall and its reconstruction with salvaged materials.