Saga set to turn Cheriton Parc into 31 residential units

Cheriton Parc is owned by Saga’s in-house insurer, Acromas Insurance Company Limited (AICL), which is registered in the offshore centre of Gibraltar. This enables AICL to provide very competitive insurance. The registered office address is 57/63 Line Wall Road, Gibraltar which features in the ICIJ Panama Paper database.

On 5 October 2020, Sir Roger de Haan became Non-Executive Chairman of Saga after the Company’s successful capital raise which generated £150m (approximately £140m net of costs). He personally invested £100m for just over 26% of the share capital. As such he is the single largest shareholder of Saga.

Cheriton Parc building (15,000 sq m) was purchased by AICL from Eurotunnel on the 03/03/2009 for £3,525,000 plus VAT according to the land registry. It went onto to become another call centre and created up to 400 jobs after AICL purchased it.

But now AICL via an agent and applicant is seeking prior approval from Folkestone & Hythe District Council Planning Department for the change of office use Class B1(a) to residential C3 to to provide 31 residential units. This will consist of 26 x 2 bedroom units and 5 x 1 bedroom units. Prior approval  is required under Schedule 2, part 3, Class O of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

The applicant and agent for Planning Application 21/1455/FH/PA  is Oliver Davis (pictured) of Oliver Davis Homes and he is also the agent through Mulberry Tree Holdings Ltd. Oliver is the man responsible for the Conversion of Ross House  which “was total shit” and “sub standard” yet the Council paid £1.8 million.

We recently mentioned that the application for food stalls on The Stade appears to have misunderstood Policy E1 in the Places & Policies Local Plan (PPLP).

The application by Oliver makes no mention of local plan policies, but the policies map shows that Policy E1 from the PPLP applies to the site, as well as policies SS1, SS3 and SS4 from the adopted Core Strategy 2013 (soon to be replaced by the Core Strategy Review Submission Draft 2020). Policy E1 notes the whole Cheriton Parc site is 15,000 square metres of floorspace and protected for B1a use (offices) – now replaced by E(g)(i). The policy allows for up to 25% non-business class uses, providing:

1. The use will add to the attractiveness and function of the employment site;

2. There is full justification of its location within the wider employment site; and

3. Proposals comply with other Local Plan policies, including those relating to Retail and Leisure.

However, Policy SS4, the Priority Centre of Activity Policy, states:

“Development in Priority Centres of Activity will be allowed where it does not result in a net loss of on-site B-Class uses, and it does not in any way jeopardise the identified commercial purpose of areas set out in the Priority Centres of Activity network”

The application form tries to justify the conversion as being greener due to reduction of car traffic:

“the site currently houses over 250 staff who access the site in the majority by personal car. We will be reducing this load by over half.”

However, this only proves that the application is at odds with local policies as there will be a loss of employment. In fact, the red line boundary excludes most of the car park and does not explain what its purpose will be – it appears to cut off access altogether. Perhaps this car park could better be put to use as a dedicated park and ride, rather than having to use the car park of offices next door?

Paragraph 170 and 180 of section 15 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – 2018 both mention noise pollution, meaning a Noise impact assessment had to be undertaken. A report was produced by MRL Acoustics in June 2021.

At paragargh 4.20, 4.21 and 4.22 of the report it states:

4.20 – Therefore, with windows open, the internal noise limits outlined within BS 8233 : 2014 of 35 dB LAeq within living rooms and bedrooms and 40 dB LAeq within dining rooms during the daytime will be exceeded.

4.21 – At night-time with the windows open the 30 dB LAeq criteria in bedrooms will be exceeded by around 19 dB(A).

4.22 – due to the exceedance of the recommended internal noise limits, it is necessary to provide a scheme of noise mitigation measures in order to fully protect the amenity of the future residents in order to achieve both the daytime and night-time internal noise levels.

The solution is to put in place 6mm glass – 12mm air gap – 6.4mm laminated glass, more commonly known as double glazing.  The current glass in situ might be sufficient but if it’s not; and needs replacing, this would go beyond permitted development and need a full planning application.

The noise impact assessment suggest the windows would not be able to open in the bedroom, living rooms or dining rooms and an alternative method of ventilation needs to be provided for all affected living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms.

Would any such ventilation system overcome potential damp?

Would you be able to run a tumble drier?

And where one asks would one hang one’s washing, given there are no gardens for the 31 properties?

Also the Car park does not form part of the application, might this become more housing?

Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are not be found in any of the paperwork submitted.

However, what is clear, is Oliver Davis and AICL owned by Saga, will turn useful employment space into unaffordable housing and no doubt drive house prices up. This means home ownership in the Folkestone & Hythe district will become even more of a dream for many.

The Shepway Vox Team

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3 Comments on Saga set to turn Cheriton Parc into 31 residential units

  1. Rubber stamp it. Monk and his cronies will.

  2. FJ Gooner // July 27, 2021 at 00:09 // Reply

    Re your: “what is clear, is Oliver Davis and AICL owned by Saga, will turn useful employment space into unaffordable housing and no doubt drive house prices up.”

    That is not correct.

    1. That “employment space” is no longer needed at all. It will sit empty for years – as before Saga took it on. Who does that help?

    2. How can building new low cost housing drive house prices up? Adding new stock should, if anything, have the opposite effect.

    I’m all for dissent, and making the coherent argument you have tends to help.

  3. This BBC article (link below) may also be of interest when the planning committee considers this application.

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