A city center transformation is nearing completion after hundreds of new apartments were approved – but buyers won’t be allowed to hang ‘unsightly items’ on their balconies.
Bellway Homes is looking to deliver the apartments as part of its 664-home Copperhouse Green project in Lowfield Street, Dartford.
Construction of the first set of houses began in 2019 on land formerly reserved for the site of Tesco’s derelict hypermarket.
Now nearing the end of the project, Bellway is looking to complete the last two phases of development.
The first site at 46-58 Lowfield Street would see 71 apartments built alongside existing phases, while a second on land occupied by the Dartford Tire Zone store is also set to become an 84-apartment block.
But the five-story buildings, which would tower over 26-acre Central Park, have prompted the council to seek reassurances about what the people who live there can and cannot do.
This involved asking developers to restrict “unsightly items” on balconies, including “bamboo washing and mosquito nets”.
Last month a decision was taken at a planning meeting of Dartford Council to grant the two plots conditional planning permission, subject to certain conditions and legal agreements.
With respect to the land east of Lowfield Street, it was determined that although the plot would involve “some shade”, it was not significant due to the trees on the boundary.
However, developers have been urged to restrict the “placement or storage of unsightly items on balconies, including washing and bamboo screens”.
The laundry issues were not determined to be a “scheduling issue”.
But Bellway said it would include covenants in leases to allow it to control what could be stored or displayed on balconies.
Council leader Jeremy Kite said he was “very sensitive” to the concerns of people already living in the area over the height and presentation of the buildings.
But the Conservative leader believes the authority has struck the right balance in the city, adding: “Not everyone thinks these buildings are beautiful, but we want to make sure that each building doesn’t harm the park in any way.
“There are opportunities created but we have to do the negatives.”
Regarding the additional restrictions imposed by the developers at their request, Cllr Kite said he did not think this would be a problem for future residents, adding that they could invest in portable clothes dryers rather than hanging laundry on the balconies.
During the meeting, clarification was also provided on the legal boundaries with a 1.8 meter fence at the park agreed.
It comes after the council’s surveyor advised that ‘certain anomalies’ had been identified on the land which adjoins part of the park’s historic ‘Kidd Legacy land’ given in 1903 for recreational purposes only.
Given the ambiguities that existed and in an effort to avoid a costly and counterproductive dispute, the council and developer agreed on a final legal boundary and filed an application with HM Land Registry.
An agreement was also reached to restore any “vegetation, flora and fauna” damaged following the erection of scaffolding to complete the works.
At the first site, concerns had also been raised about the impact on two Grade II listed buildings, one at 41A Lowfield Street and the other, the Two Brewers pub.
However, a heritage report carried out on behalf of Bellway concluded that the 71 apartments “would have no impact on their significance”.
It is hoped the development will end a long-running saga that has seen storefronts largely abandoned for the better part of two decades.
The land was previously owned by Tesco, which attempted to build a supermarket on the site as early as 2003 but sold the land in 2015 after several unsuccessful applications.
Cllr Kite said the Tesco debacle had been a “stain” on the town’s image, but with accommodation in place, more people were using the shops and independent businesses had sprung up.
He added: “People now see the whole project and they also see the impact of the regeneration of the town centre.
“More important than buildings is that we have people living there.”
Phases one, two and three of the old brewery have already been completed and residents moved into the first properties last year.
As part of the proposals, compulsory buying powers have been authorized to seize a former nightclub building at 46 Lowfield Street, last used as a Christian church.