5. Residential Accommodation

One-bedroom flats

5.1.

Cliftonville West and Margate Central wards contain a substantial proportion of larger properties, many previously used as hotels or large dwellings reflecting the popularity of the resort in Victorian times. The size and layout of many of these are too large for, or incompatible with, modern living requirements. With the decline of the traditional seaside holiday, many of these properties became neglected and/or occupied by dependent and vulnerable people. (For example multiple occupation, DSS bed and breakfast, asylum seekers, people placed by outside authorities and homeless people in private rented accommodation). The presence and availability of cheap housing has helped the area to become a destination of choice for a transient population, ranging from the homeless to those attracted by the “seaside” lifestyle.

 One bedroom accommodation

5.2.

The relatively low property prices in the area, and the availability of large properties suitable for conversion to flats, has led to a significant amount of flatted accommodation. The chart below shows the total number of housing completions (which includes new build and conversions) in the Cliftonville West and Margate Central Wards in comparison to the rest of Thanet.

Housing-completions 

5.3.

The number of housing completions in Cliftonville West and Margate Central is higher than other wards, and there was a dramatic increase in between 2004/5 and 2005/6. The Cliftonville West Renewal area occupies 55.67 hectares of the 10 322 hectares of the Thanet District (0.54%). The chart above demonstrates the pressure for development in this area with just over a quarter of completions for the whole district occurring in this small area.

5.4.

The 2001 census shows that flatted accommodation already forms a significantly higher proportion of Thanet’s housing stock, when compared to Kent and the South East:

Proportion of flats 

5.5.

Thanet’s two most deprived wards of Cliftonville West and Margate Central also have the highest percentage of flats in the district (60% and 57% respectively compared to 24% for the whole district). The amount of rented accommodation in these wards significantly exceeds the amount for Thanet:

Rented accommodation 

These two wards have the highest proportion of rented accommodation in Thanet having private (as opposed to Council/registered social) landlords.

5.6.

The combination of a large number of small flats, which are in generally poor condition, means that there is a plentiful supply of cheap rentable property which attracts vulnerable and transient people to the area and compounds the deprivation cycle. The oversupply of small self-contained units in Cliftonville West and Margate Central is thus a key factor in the area’s deprivation and perpetuating the deprivation cycle.

5.7.

An increasing quantity of accommodation in these wards was being converted to bedsit accommodation and flats. While this may represent investment in property and potentially better standards of accommodation than say multiple occupation, many such proposals are for conversion of hotels/dwellings to bed-sits/1 bedroom flats. In an already deprived area such increases in the stock of small accommodation are, in the foreseeable future, likely to be at the low end of the market and serve to fuel the deprivation cycle through importation of an increasing number of dependent and vulnerable people. The building stock offers substantial scope for such conversion to continue. The Council therefore considers that the amount of property in these wards being converted to bed-sits and one-bed flats is actually fuelling the importation of socially and economically dependent people.

5.8.

In order to attract more independent people into the area, the Council adopted a policy to restrict further development of one-bedroom flats in the Cliftonville West area as Supplementary Planning Guidance in December 2006. This policy has been successful in significantly reducing the number of applications for one-bedroom flats, and permission has not been granted for one-bedroom flats since its introduction. The policy has also been supported at appeals by Planning Inspectors. Following further consultation, this policy has been reviewed, updated and revised.

POLICY CV1 - ONE BEDROOM FLATS View Map of this site ?

Proposals to provide single bedroom flatted accommodation, bed-sits and non self-contained accommodation (houses in multiple occupation) within the DPD Plan area will not be permitted. This includes provision by way of conversion of existing buildings and by way of new build.

Size of Flats

5.9.

A significant issue arising from public consultations is the number of small flats being developed in the area. The councils Supplementary Planning Guidance (1988) – Conversion to Flats Guidelines, currently requires a minimum standard of 50 square meters for a two-bedroom flat. Comments were made during consultations that this standard is too small. Careful consideration has been given to the inclusion of a new space standard for Cliftonville in this document. However, it was decided that this would not be appropriate as space standards are an issue relevant to other parts of the district, and would also be too inflexible as planning policy – possibly resulting in penalising good design. A significant amount of consultation and research would also need to be undertaken to ensure a reasonable and justified minimum standard would be set, and this would delay this DPD unacceptably. However it is considered appropriate for the Conversions to Flats Guidelines, including internal space standards, to be reviewed, and this has been programmed as a Supplementary Planning Document in the most recent Local Development Scheme (third revision effective from 2nd February 2009). This will be a new Supplementary Planning Document with work scheduled to begin in April 2011 and estimated adoption March 2012.

5.10.

The design and layout of residential units is of paramount importance since providing a larger unit will not compensate for a poor layout, badly proportioned spaces, awkward door swings that reduce usability, or poor orientation of units. Proposals for flats in Cliftonville are therefore expected to provide spacious living accommodation and be of a high quality design and standard.

5.10.1.

Family Housing

5.11.

Figures set out in this document clearly demonstrate the excessive proportion of small flatted and rented accommodation within the policy area. However, the area does still retain a number of properties currently used as, or capable of being used as, single-family accommodation.

5.12.

The key issue for Cliftonville is to re-establish a balanced community. However, the over dominance of small flats occupied by one or two people, often only living in the area for a short period of time, clearly contributes to the imbalance. Given this imbalance it is appropriate and necessary to ensure that existing accommodation, suitable for occupation by families, is retained. The following policy seeks to ensure that family homes remain available to families or those who use them as a single household.

POLICY CV2 - RETENTION OF FAMILY HOUSING View Map of this site ?

Planning permission for the subdivision of properties, currently or last lawfully used as single-family accommodation, or by a single household, will not be permitted.

  • Single family or single household accommodation may relate to a property with two or more bedrooms but no maximum number is specified.
  • Policy CV2 will apply where the current or last lawful use of a property falls within Class C3 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended): CLASS C3: DWELLINGHOUSES Use as a dwellinghouse (whether or not as a sole or main residence) a) by a single person or by people living together as a family, or b) by not more than six residents living together as a single household (including a household where care is provided for residents).

Provision of Family Housing in new Developments

5.13.

In seeking to make Cliftonville a prosperous and attractive community again, it is important that attention is focused on how new development can contribute to this and not just on controlling conversions and retaining family housing. Given that the accommodation mix is currently heavily skewed towards flatted accommodation it is important that development on new residential sites contributes to changing this pattern. The provision of high quality family housing would help redress the balance of accommodation mix and reduce the current transient trend of residents that develops from a high number of flats. There will still be many properties brought forward for conversion rather than redevelopment. Therefore it is appropriate to introduce a policy that requires consideration in the first instance to new development or redevelopment sites providing only family housing and precluding flats and apartments.

5.14.

This approach could result in conflict with design and townscape issues where smaller individual family dwellings may be proposed adjacent to existing more substantial larger scale property. For example, a development of 2-storey family houses would look out of place in a street solely comprising four or five storey buildings. Additionally, modern development tends to have smaller floor-ceiling heights than typically found in the area which could lead to fenestration patterns appropriate to flats rather than family houses. Notwithstanding this potential conflict, the Council considers that in most cases innovative design solutions, such as the use of 3-storey town houses or similar, should enable appropriate solutions to be reached to the overall benefit of the area.

POLICY CV3 - PROVISION OF FAMILY HOUSING IN NEW DEVELOPMENTS View Map of this site ?

In new development or redevelopment flats of any size will not be permitted unless it can be clearly demonstrated that there are overriding design or townscape reasons for allowing such development and that no acceptable design solution can be found to accommodate individual family dwellings.

*For the purpose of this policy individual family dwellings are defined as houses/bungalows (excluding flats) with their own front door, a minimum of 2 bedrooms and with their own accessible and exclusive private amenity space at the rear of the property

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