Planning Responses

The Kendal Flood Scheme - Offer of Consultation

last updated: 20 July 2021

The Society has recently been asked by the Environment Agency to enter into what may prove to be fairly detailed discussions about aspects of the Kendal Flood Scheme, in particular some of the details of the proposals in the Conservation Area. We welcome this opportunity to comment in a meaningful way, but the committee felt that we should in the same breath, so to speak, make our position quite clear about the scheme as a whole.

The Kendal Civic Society has always been strongly opposed to this scheme and we raised our objections at the time of the planning application. We have not changed our minds on this.

In making our formal objections, we acted hand in hand with the Friends of the Lake District and Historic England and many other organisations. We still believe that the current scheme is fundamentally flawed - that common sense as well as the environmental science dictated that the upstream measures should be carried out first and that the impact of these be incorporated into the computer modelling which is driving the design of the walls and engineering works in Kendal. We believe that this would very likely have meant a less intrusive, more environmentally friendly solution. We have noted with interest the recent (June 2021) apparent change of heart by the Environment Agency as regards ‘concrete’ flood defences (as reported in the press) and their new focus on ‘nature based solutions’. This would in our view have been the correct way to proceed in Kendal and it would perhaps have resulted in a scheme that was more likely to prevent another Storm Desmond flood, something that the current scheme does not do. It might also have avoided the felling of so many beautiful mature trees and the brutal engineering works in the heart of the town which will enclose the river and destroy the open aspect of the riverside. Instead, here in Kendal, the Environment Agency with the support of SLDC has pressed forward simply in order to meet an arbitrary funding deadline. Kendal may be one of the last schemes in the country to be approached in this way, something that will, we feel, be a long term source of regret.

We do, however, accept that this argument has been lost.

Now that physical work is commencing our intention is to try to mitigate the worst aspects of the scheme and try to ensure that less damaging options are taken if possible in the Conservation Area. In this, we do welcome the recent approach by the Agency. We are not, of course, a statutory consultee and to date our responses have been limited to making specific comments on aspects of the scheme as details have been published through the planning process. This we have done. This recent offer of consultation may give us a better opportunity to influence the designs as they develop. They may at least allow us to address one of our main concerns - namely the way in which the detailed design of the interventions in the Conservation Area is apparently being decided at present. We are, frankly, not confident that the process is in the hands of designers with the appropriate insight, skill and authority to handle the design in this highly sensitive environment, despite best intentions. Alteration work in Conservation Areas requires particular sensitivity and understanding but it seems to us that this scheme is still led, as it has always been, by the flood engineers who have other priorities.

The list of design issues for discussion is quite a long one - the specification of the new stonework and particularly the related details such as the copings; the final details of the new railings and how the important existing Webster railings and Rishton railings are incorporated; the details of how the existing stone will be re-used;  the improvement of the ugly glazed screens; the details of the ground surfaces;  the details of how the existing features such as the laundry steps and the fountain will be incorporated;  the  details of the new bridge landing areas;  the design and selection of the street furniture;  the design of the artificial lighting and the commissioning and installation of the promised works of art.

It is probably too late to stop this dreadful scheme in its tracks even despite the recent apparent change of heart by the Agency - our preferred course of action - but if anything can be done even at this late stage to improve the quality of the details we will be pleased to make our contribution.

SL/2021/0749 - Land adjacent to Rivers Mint and Kent

last updated: 30 August 2021

Land adjacent to Rivers Mint and Kent extending from adjacent to Lakeland Distribution Centre to Helsington Mills KENDAL: Discharge of conditions 11 (Flood Gates), 14 (Landscape: Reach G4), 18 (Archaeology: Reach G4), 20 (Transport Assessment / Construction Management Plan Update: Reach G4), and 26 (Biodiversity: Reach G4) attached to planning permission SL/2018/0925.

Object: While we welcome the retention of the 36m section of the Abbot Hall boundary wall we do object to the use of thin concrete copings and use of imprinted concrete.

We were told that there would be no imprinted concrete wall within the Conservation Area – that promise seems to have been set aside in this application to the detriment of the residents of adjacent properties.

We also see that, while copings are at least proposed for the sections of new wall in this change that, instead of being thick natural stone in keeping with the wall construction, they are indicated to be only 50 mm thick precast concrete. They will present as thin modern paving slabs planted on the wall top with a bevel almost imperceptible except on close inspection (if they are to be the same as those recently installed adjacent to Natland Road). To echo other copings in the Conservation Area they should at least be much thicker and stone rather than concrete to enhance the walls. We would urge that materials used must be suitable for a Conservation Area rather than might be appropriate in Milton Keynes.

SL/2021/0723 - Land adjacent to Rivers Mint and Kent

last updated: 30 August 2021

Land adjacent to Rivers Mint and Kent extending from adjacent to Lakeland Distribution Centre to Helsington Mills, KENDAL: Discharge of conditions 14 (Landscape: Reach H2), 18 (Archaeology: Reach H2) & 26 (Biodiversity: Reach H2) attached to planning permission SL/2018/0925.

Object: We welcome the proposals for access arrangements to the stone arch between the church and the parish hall as now proposed, this seems like a sensible improvement to that previously proposed. Similarly, we welcome the raising of the coping stones immediately adjacent to the Kirkland footpath, so they are more obviously associated with a wall as they were originally, rather than appearing as a curb as now. Obviously, we also welcome changes that reduce damage to existing trees and improve chances of retaining as many as possible of the good quality ones.

However, we do have concerns about the proposed ramped access from Kirkland, particularly about the elevated railings introduced by this change and the potential for further disconnection with the river when viewed from Kirkland. The supporting elevations are not adequate to assess what effect the railings will have on views of the river and it would appear that more railings are proposed than are justified by changes of level and we consider then to be more obtrusive than necessary.

There is no consideration of other measures such as changes to adjacent ground levels to reduce the need for intrusive railings, particularly where they are such a utilitarian design. A visualisation should be simple to prepare from engineering drawings already produced and photographs to aid interpretation. If there was no increased adverse impact or this amendment was considered a visual improvement, we would have expected this to have been presented to support this submission. We do not consider that the additional impact of these railings has been addressed in the supporting statement and consider them to be more visually intrusive than previously indicated We also are also concerned that there are no wall copings proposed to match the wall alongside the river and on the edge of Kirkland.

SL/2021/0691 - 3 Pear Tree Cottages Bankfield Road KENDAL LA9 4LA

last updated: 30 August 2021

Replacement of two single glazed sash windows on to the front of the property with two double glazed timber windows.

Object: We do not support complete replacement of original windows that could be repaired, and their thermal properties improved by the use of secondary glazing in the Conservation Area. It is not at all clear that the windows cannot be repaired from the information provided and we would encourage the applicant to follow Historic England guidance to repair not replace, particularly where the windows are a significant element of the character of the building.

The photographs appear to show original windows contemporary with the building or good quality timber Victorian replacements, albeit apparently inadequately repaired in the past. If the current windows are more modern replacements the detail is good, and any replacement or repair should be identical. Anything less would cause harm to the Conservation Area.

We note that the originals proportions have not been supplied for comparison. The wooden detailing of the proposed replacements appears to be cruder and more obtrusive than the existing narrow profiles which are an asset to a building frontage which the applicant acknowledges as important in the Conservation Area. Presumably this is to accommodate the additional weight of the double-glazed glass units. It is also not indicated in the drawings how the glazing bars will be achieved. It is well known that ‘stick-on’ glazing bars regularly fail to stay in place if they are in an exposed position, which the applicant says they will be.
Sash windows such as these are of relatively simple construction and thus easy to repair by a competent joiner and usually cheaper than replacement. Original windows of the period of this property were normally made from high quality durable softwood and we would expect repairs to use similar materials. It is noted that the proposed windows are proposed to be treated softwood which is likely to be no more durable than the original.

We are conscious that the energy performance of buildings must be improved to help to combat climate change and comfort is also a factor however, other less intrusive methods (visually and physically) can be employed to achieve a similar end, such as draft proofing and secondary glazing, but the application makes no mention of other measures being investigated as justification for the approach adopted.

We therefore OBJECT to this application as it is currently presented.

SL/2021/0750 - Land adjacent to Rivers Mint and Kent

last updated: 30 August 2021

Land adjacent to Rivers Mint and Kent extending from adjacent to Lakeland Distribution Centre to Helsington Mills KENDAL: Application for a non-material amendment to Kendal Flood Risk Management Scheme, Phase 1 (approved under reference SL/2018/0925) to reconfigure flood defences in Reach G4.

Object: While we welcome the retention of the 36m section of the Abbot Hall boundary wall we do have concerns about the finishes proposed.

We were told that there would be no imprinted concrete wall within the Conservation Area – that promise seems to have been set aside in this application to the detriment of the residents of adjacent properties.

We also see that, while copings are at least proposed for the sections of new wall in this change that, instead of being thick natural stone in keeping with the wall construction, they are indicated to be only 50 mm thick precast concrete. They will present as thin modern paving slabs planted on the wall top with a bevel almost imperceptible except on close inspection if they are to be the same as those recently installed adjacent to Natland Road. To echo other copings in the Conservation Area they should at least be much thicker and stone rather than concrete to enhance the walls. We would urge that materials used are suitable for a Conservation Area rather than might be appropriate in Milton Keynes.

SL/2021/0710 - Land adjacent to Rivers Mint and Kent

last updated: 30 August 2021

Land adjacent to Rivers Mint and Kent extending from adjacent to Lakeland Distribution Centre to Helsington Mills KENDAL: Application for a non-material amendment following a grant of planning permission SL/2018/0925 Kendal Flood Risk Management Scheme - Phase 1 Kendal Linear Defences, comprising works along the rivers Kent and Mint through Kendal including new and raised flood walls, new and raised flood embankments, ground raising, pumping station and associated changes to the public realm and landscaping.

Object: We welcome the alterations to the access arrangements to the stone arch between the church and the parish hall as now proposed, this seems like a sensible improvement to that previously proposed. Similarly, we welcome the raising of the coping stones immediately adjacent to the Kirkland footpath, so they are more obviously associated with a wall as they were originally, rather than appearing as a curb as now. Obviously, we also welcome changes that reduce damage to existing trees and improve chances of retaining as many as possible of the good quality ones.

However, we do have concerns about the proposed ramped access from Kirkland, particularly about the elevated railings introduced by this change and the potential for further disconnection with the river when viewed from Kirkland. The supporting elevations are not adequate to assess what effect the railings will have on views of the river and it would appear that more railings are proposed than are justified by changes of level. There is no consideration of other measures such as changes to adjacent ground levels to reduce the need for intrusive railings, particularly where they are such a utilitarian design. A visualisation should be simple to prepare from engineering drawings already produced and photographs to aid interpretation. If there was no increased adverse impact or this amendment was considered a visual improvement, we would have expected this to have been presented to support this proposal. We do not consider that the additional impact of these railings has been addressed in the supporting statement.

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