#ThirdTimeLucky – Living wall for First & Last in #EXEStThomas

I’ve learned to relish any victory, however small. And it seems there is a small success in the matter of a living green wall on the south gable of the First & Last redevelopment.

Back in 2014, a planning application was lodged with Exeter City Council for a change of use from existing public house and one first floor dwelling in to three dwellings plus an additional new build dwelling and associated ancillary facilities [14/4821/03].

I had reservations at the time as the First & Last is at a busy junction where 4 major roads converge – Cowick Street, Cowick Lane, Dunsford Road and Buddle Lane. There is often traffic congestion and chaos at the junction – and not only at morning and evening rush hours.

The bus stop is in the wrong place, meaning the yellow box junction is ineffective, and the phasing of the traffic lights needs sorting out.

As part of the consultation on the planning application, I made my views known. Could the development be car-free? Could  Devon County Council [as the Local Highway Authority] request some section 106 monies from the developer to look at sorting out the traffic problems? The answer to both questions was NO.

But there was something interesting and exciting contained within the submitted design statement. As part of the landscaping plans, James Barnfield [of Hilton Barnfield Architects] was suggesting a living green wall for the south gabel of the new building.

First & Last | Landscaping outline in Design Statement [Hilton Barnfield Architects]
The application was approved under delegated powers on 25 February 2015.

As is usual certain planning conditions were attached to the approval.

Condition 2 of the original planning decision only permitted development in strict accordance with the submitted details received by the Local Planning Authority on 16 December2014 (dwg. no’s 0084_FIR_PL_1.9; 2.0 (rev B); 2.1; 2.2; 3.0; 3.1; 3.2; 4.0; 4.1), as modified by other conditions of this consent.

And Condition 3 stated ”Notwithstanding condition 2, details of all external materials to be used in the proposed new dwelling shall be submitted to the Local Planning Authority and the development shall not be started before their approval is obtained in writing and the materials used in the construction of the development shall correspond with the approved details in all respects.”

First & Last | DWG0084_FIR_PL_3.2 [Hilton Barnfield Architects]
So far, so good.

But often in planing, the original applicant sells the site onto a new developer to actually deliver the plans. And this is the case here – with new architects appointed for the scheme.

But rather than a living vertical garden, green felt pockets appeared in August 2016:

First & Last | Felt pockets [close-up] First & Last | Felt pockets

Then in September 2016, the felt pockets were removed and replace with faux plastic greenery:

First & Last | Plastic flowers [close-up] First & Last | Plastic flowers









As I result, I asked ECC Panning Officers to investigate enforcement action to get the new developers to comply with the original decision notice.

That led the new developers to submit a new planning application [16/1515/03], asking for a retrospective variation of condition 2 of Planning Application 14/4821/03 for revised plans showing removal of planted gable wall and replace with rendered finish, to match render used on refurbished building.

The application was considered at a Delegation Briefing held on 10 January 2017.

First & Last | Officers Report 16/1515/03
First & Last | Officers Report 16/1515/03

The Project Manager informed that plastic flowers had been planted instead of real plants, which doesn’t comply with the revised planning approval. An objection had been received stating the need for real plants for ecological benefits.

A Member provided a brief purchase history of the property. The construction of the property would be the same if it was planted as a ‘living wall’. A condition needs to be in place to replace with real plants with replanting as needed.

The members decided to refuse the Variation of Condition 2 and supported the change to real plants to create a green living wall.

The decision notice was issued on 12 January 2017.

First & Last | Decision notice 16/1515/03
First & Last | Decision Notice 16/1515/03

So in the near future, we can expect to see real living greenery forming a vertical garden on the south gable on the new building on the old First and Last development.

First & Last | Visualisation of living vertical garden [Hilton Barnfield Architects]
First & Last | Visualisation of living vertical garden [Hilton Barnfield Architects]
Further reading:
My Storify feed on the issue: 07/10/16 | Sedum Garden on First & Last development

My Storify feed on the issue: 12/12/16 | First & Last in #EXEStThomas

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