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Developers to bar buyers from hanging washing on balconies as final phase of Lowfield Street town centre scheme in Dartford approved


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A town centre's transformation is edging closer to completion after hundreds of new flats were approved – but buyers will be barred from hanging "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.

CGI of the Lowfield Street flats Credit: RM A Architects
CGI of the Lowfield Street flats Credit: RM A Architects

Construction on the first set of homes started in 2019 on land formerly earmarked for Tesco’s abandoned superstore site.

Now nearing the end of the project, Bellway is looking to finish the final two phases of the development.

The first site on 46-58 Lowfield Street would see 71 flats built next to the existing phases, while a second on land occupied by the Dartford Tyre Zone shop is also set to become a block with 84 flats.

But the five-storey buildings, which would overlook the 26-acre Central Park, has prompted the council to seek assurances over what people living there can and can't do.

This included asking developers to restrict "unsightly items" on balconies, including "washing and bamboo screening".

Restrictive covenants will be placed on residents hanging washing and other 'unsightly items' on balconies. Photo: iStock
Restrictive covenants will be placed on residents hanging washing and other 'unsightly items' on balconies. Photo: iStock

Last month a decision was taken at a Dartford council planning meeting to grant both plots conditional planning permission, subject to certain conditions and legal agreements.

With regards to land east of Lowfield Street it was determined that although the plot would involve "some shadowing" this was not significant due to the trees on the boundary.

However, the developers were asked to restrict the "placement or storage of unsightly items on balconies, including washing and bamboo screening".

Laundry concerns were not determined to be a "planning issue".

But Bellway has advised it would include restrictive 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 with regards to the height and presentation of buildings.

The scheme is another phase in the Lowfield Street development. Credit: RM A Architects
The scheme is another phase in the Lowfield Street development. Credit: RM A Architects

But the Tory leader believes the authority has struck the right balance in the town, adding: "Not everyone thinks these buildings are beautiful but we want to make sure each building is not in any way detrimental to the park.

"There are opportunities created but we do have to do the negative aspects."

On the added restrictions imposed by developers at their request, Cllr Kite said he did not believe it would be a problem to future residents, adding they could invest in portable dryers rather than hang washing over balconies.

During the meeting, clarification was also provided on legal boundaries with a 1.8 metre fence to the park agreed.

It comes after the council’s surveyor advised that "certain anomalies" had been identified on the plot which adjoins part of the park's historic "Kidd Legacy land" donated in 1903 for recreational purposes only.

Given the ambiguities that existed, and in an effort to avoid a costly and counter-productive dispute, the council and the developer have agreed a definitive legal boundary and made an application to HM Land Registry.

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite said the scheme was helping spearhead the town's regeneration
Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite said the scheme was helping spearhead the town's regeneration

An agreement was also reached to restore any damaged "vegetation, flora and fauna" following the erection of scaffolding to complete the works.

At the first site, concerns had also been flagged over the impact on two Grade II-listed buildings, one at 41A Lowfield Street and the other, the Two Brewers pub.

However, a heritage report conducted on behalf of Bellway concluded the 71 flats would “have no impact on their significance”.

It is hoped the development will bring a close to a long-running saga which saw shop fronts sit largely derelict for the best part of two-decades.

The land had been previously owned by Tesco’s, which had attempted to build a supermarket on the site as early as 2003, but sold the land on in 2015 after several failed applications.

Cllr Kite said the Tesco débâcle had been a "stain" on the town's image but with housing in place more and more people were using the shops and independent businesses had sprung up.

He added: "People are now seeing the completeness of the scheme and they are also seeing the impact of the regeneration of the town centre.

"More important than the buildings is we have got people living there."

Phases one, two and three at the old brewery have already been completed with residents moving into the first properties last year.

As part of the proposals, compulsory purchase powers have been authorised to seize a former nightclub building at 46 Lowfield Street last used as a Christian church.

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