'Disrespectful' application to reduce parking at Romford flats refused

Parking at Romford development debated

Verve Apartments in Mercury Gardens - Credit: Google Maps

An application to reduce the number of parking spaces serving an apartment block in the centre of Romford has been refused. 

Original planning permission to convert the Hexagon House office block in Mercury Gardens into the 115-flat Verve Apartments promised 60 car parking spaces for residents. 

Since then, two additional storeys accommodating 20 more apartments have been added, but this year developer Smith Homes Ltd made an application to cut the number of parking spaces to 27. 

On Tuesday, December 21, members of Havering’s strategic planning committee voted unanimously to refuse permission for the change. 

The application had been initially put before the committee in August, with officers recommending approval with conditions. 

At that meeting, however, councillors raised concerns that residents had entered leases or tenancies under the expectation that the 60 parking spaces would be available. 

Officers explained that this basis for refusal would be not be legally defendable upon appeal and it was agreed to defer the decision so officers could prepare a new report. 

Pulling together the new report, officers said there could be a “significantly increased risk” that increased demand for on-street parking on already congested roads could be detrimental to “the safe and free flow of traffic in the control parking zone”. 

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Helen Oakerbee, assistant director of planning at the council, explained: “The refusal reason isn’t the reason you were looking for, and the reason that you had arrived at yourselves as a committee. 

“Our advice to you is we couldn’t justify that reason and there aren’t planning policies that support that as a reason. 

“But reflecting on it, there is a reason and that’s the reason that’s set out in the report.” 

Cllr Joshua Chapman, ward councillor for Romford Town and the councillor who called in the proposals, said the original planning approval had been “as clear cut as it comes” in stating that the spaces were intended for the occupants of the conversion. 

He added: “[It] disrespects our residents that all of these years on the developers are using the planning system now to reduce the number of parking spaces when they should have been provided all of those years ago to residents."