Councillors have refused a developer’s plan to build new flats in Beaconsfield, defying a planning officer’s request for them to approve it.

Zafiro Homes was given permission in September to demolish the existing property at 2 Westfield Road Beaconsfield and replace it with a single home.

But in a follow-up application, which has now been refused, the applicant proposed to replace the existing property with seven apartments.

Zafiro’s new plans read: “Whilst this new application is for an alternative form of development, absolutely no changes are proposed to the external appearance whatsoever!”

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The case officer Richard Regan agreed, saying: “It is your officer’s view that given the proposed building is of the same design, size, height, scale, massing and siting as that which has already been approved and found appropriate for the site and locality, it is considered that there are no reasonable grounds to object to the proposal.”

He told councillors on the planning committee: “The main difference between this current proposal and the previously proposed one is that the building is to be used as seven apartments as opposed to one single dwelling.”

Mr Regan also claimed the use of the site as seven flats would not be harmful to the character and appearance of the areas.

He said this was down to 16 parking spaces being discreetly provided in the basement and because the vehicles of the occupants of the seven flats would not have a big impact on the area.

However, a string of local residents complained about the potential impact of the new flats on a quiet street in Beaconsfield.

One of the objectors wrote: “We have a situation where a developer seeks to gain planning permission by stealth.”

The plans were called into committee for further scrutiny by the three local ward councillors, Jackson Ng, Alison Wheelhouse and Anita Cranmer.

Cllr Cranmer told the committee: “There would many people using this property, at least 14, probably more and a great deal of vehicle movement as well.”

She added: “Such a building has no place in an area of special character because it provides significant density in its use.”

Damage to trees during construction, traffic and a lack of privacy for neighbours were among the other concerns raised.

One objector called the area the ‘kind of neighbourhood where kids play in the street and friends natter over the fence and families buy their forever family homes’.

He told councillors: “It is heartbreaking to imagine this being taken away for future generations all because a property developer can make more money building seven flats rather than one house.”

However, James Kestell-Cornish, speaking on behalf of Zafiro’s agent DP Architects claimed that the development had already been deemed appropriate, echoing the case officer’s comments.

He said the house had been designed to ‘work in harmony’ with the area and that every aspect had been professionally designed to ensure the property’s ‘seamless integration into its surroundings’.

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