Lightwater gets its own dedicated dance studio

Being in Strasbourg last week meant missing last Wednesday’s Planning Applications Committee. It deliberated on the contentious application for change of use of Lightwater Police Station to a Dance Studio. [Refer to pages 18 to 28 in Reports]

The application was passed. The vote was 11 in favour, 2 against, and 1 absented from voting due to conflict of interest. For the record the officer’s report said, “since the original report a further 124 representations have been received, 58 in support and 66 in objection (and 2 petitions [of 23 and 28 signatures]) raising the following new objections (making a total of 72 in support and 69 (with 2 petitions) raising objections):

The officer’s report dealt with 32 separate objections. I thought it would be instructive to list them below, and follow that with the note on highway safety from Surrey County Highways:

  1. The plot needs to revert to residential [Officer comment: The site falls within 400 metres of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) and therefore could not be provided for residential use without harm to the integrity of the SPA].
  2. Slip road not sufficiently wide to accommodate continuous traffic of parents dropping off and picking up pupils [See comments from the County Highway Authority below].
  3. Comparisons with other dance studios and their noise output [Officer comment: Each application (and site) has to be treated on its own merits].
  4. Tesco’s w ere refused permission in the village for development on similar issues [Officer comment: Each application (and site) has been treated on its own merits].
  5. Traffic congestion on Guildford Road and Lightwater village [See comments from the County Highway Authority below].
  6. Use of garden for dance classes [Officer comment: the proposal is to use the building only for such purposes].
  7. Use/hiring out of building for other purposes would compound noise/traffic/parking issues [Officer comment: Condition 3 limits the use of the premises as a dance studio only].
  8. Controls on street parking needed (white/yellow lining) [Officer comment: This is a matter for the County Council].
  9. Impact on drainage [Officer comment: It is not considered that the change of use and minor extension of this building would, in itself, have any significant impact on drainage.
  10. Future impact on autistic person [Officer comment: This is not a reason, in itself, to refuse].
  11. Ill-mannered nature, and indiscriminate parking, of parents [Officer comment: This is not a reason, in itself, to refuse this application].
  12. Impact of extra traffic on highway safety at slip road entrance/exit, which are poor road junctions [See comments from the County Highway Authority].
  13. Parking on grass verges and associated impact on character/trees. Protective posts required? And paid by whom? [Officer comment: This is a matter for the County Council].
  14. Only seven parking spaces to be provided, which appear to be all for staff [Officer comment: It is not expected that all of the on-site car parking would only be provided for staff].
  15. Access problems for service vehicles (including bin collection) [See comments from the County Highway Authority below].
  16. Parking problems associated with police use of the site [Officer comment: This is noted].
  17. Noise disturbance would be unsociable [See officer report and Environmental Health comments below].
  18. Parents will not park in the village or behind All Saints Church, particularly in bad weather. Church car park is used for other purposes (e.g. recreation ground). Not all parents will “drop and go” [See comments from the County Highway Authority below].
  19. Building could not accommodate all classes [Officer comment: The proposal would not necessarily mean that all other venues, currently used, would not then be used by the dance studio for their classes. The application site would only have a certain capacity (i.e. two studios)].
  20. Existing dancing school advertises 42 classes per week across 3 or 4 venues [See officer comment immediately above]. 
  21. There are no crossing facilities across nearby road junctions [See comments from the County Highway Authority below].
  22. Impact on local parking on local businesses [See comments from the County Highway Authority below].
  23. No mention of control on hours of operation [Officer comment: See proposed Condition 4 in the officer report].
  24. Limited impact of existing (satellite) police station on residential amenity [Officer comment: This is noted].
  25. Impact of extension on neighbours (particularly 40 Guildford Road) [See officer report].
  26. Further details of refuse storage required (which could have an impact on local character) [Officer comment: It is not expected that any further arrangements will be needed].
  27. Impact on servicing [See comments from the County Highway Authority below].
  28. Not in keeping with Lightwater Village Design Statement SPD 2007 [See officer report].
  29. Impact on traffic through village, in conjunction with other developments at Deepcut and DERA sites [Officer comment: This would not be a reason to refuse this application].
  30. Use and availability of alternative venues instead [Officer comment: This would not be a reason to refuse this application].
  31. Timing of Highway Officer site visit and their assessment of traffic and highway matter [Officer comment: The Highway Officer would have been able to make a fair reflection of traffic and highway matters even if they viewed the site during off-peak times].
  32. Level of support for the proposal by users of the dance classes and do not live in the immediate area of the application site [Officer comment: This would not be a reason to refuse this application].

Impact on highway safety

9.6.1 The proposal would provide seven car parking spaces on the site which would meet the adopted car parking standards. In addition, the application site is in a fairly sustainable location, close to the village centre of Lightwater and associated free parking. The formal comments of the County Highway Authority are awaited and any formal comments will be reported to the Planning Applications Committee. However, the County Highway Authority have (orally) raised no objections to the current proposal and it is considered that the proposal is acceptable on highway safety and parking grounds, complying with Policies CP11 and DM11 of the Surrey Heath Core Strategy and Development Management Policies 2012.

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