A grand office building in Bracknell will be converted into flats despite objections from neighbours, the town’s rugby club, and a tennis club.

Lily Hill House and Court, located in Lily Hill Park, will both be turned into flats after serving as offices.

During a meeting, planning officer Jo Male argued the office conversion would be appropriate due to Lily Hill House’s previous use as a home and adequate parking spaces being provided.

The grand house will be converted into 20 apartments, and the more modern Lily Hill Court -which was built in the 1990s- will be converted into 12 apartments, making 33 flats in total.

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The conversion will create 12 one-bed or studio apartments, six two-bed apartments and two three-bed apartments, with 59 car parking spaces being provided for the new occupants.

Because the plan was submitted as a ‘prior approval’ application councillors could only scrutinise certain aspects of it, such as the impact the conversion will have on traffic and transport, contamination and flooding issues, any noise impact which could affect future occupiers of the apartments, and whether enough light is be provided.

That’s because in 2013, the Government allowed offices to be converted into flats as ‘permitted development’ – which can allow for building to take place without planning permission.

For larger conversions such as this one, developers need to make an application for prior approval so work can start.

Bracknell News: Lily Hill Court, an office building that was built in the 90s, will now host 12 flats. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy ReporterLily Hill Court, an office building that was built in the 90s, will now host 12 flats. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporter

Councillor John Harrison (Conservative, Binfield with Warfield), did scrutinise the impact the conversion could have on people who use Lily Hill Park already at the planning meeting where it was approved.

The park is a popular place for exercise and is also the home of Bracknell Rugby Club and Bracknell Lawn Tennis Club.

Both clubs objected to the conversion over concerns that they will be hit with noise and nuisance complaints by future residents.

Cllr Harrison asked: “We’ve got sports clubs working there, the tennis club for example. There’s people who are doing recreational things in the park, and may cause a nuisance to residents, potentially, there may be lighting and noise from the tennis club into the evening – how do we reconcile the differing demands and possible future demands of the residents? So that those people who are legitimately using Lily Hill Park at the moment are not disadvantaged.”

Officer Male replied: “There are established uses so obviously anyone purchasing or leasing a flat, will be coming into the site with the knowledge there’s a tennis and rugby club further to the south of the site.

“It’s not anticipated that noise and disturbance from the tennis club as an example would be sufficient to cause a statutory noise nuisance to future residents.”

She added that there are no external alterations to the house or the court proposed, and any changes to the exterior that are made would have to go through the planning department.

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Cllr Tricia Brown (Labour, Priestwood & Garth) asked whether all flats would be provided with windows.

Replying, officer Male said although she did not have an exact answer, Lily Hill House was built as a residential property, and many of the rooms would have adequate windows.

Prior approval for the conversion to go ahead was granted unanimously at Bracknell Forest Council’s planning committee meeting yesterday (Thursday, November 11).

You can see tweets from the meeting and other results here:

Although Lily Hill House is a historic building, it is not a ‘Listed’ building protected by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

The house is ‘locally listed’, but that does not give it the same protection that a fully Listed building has.

You can view the approved plans for the conversion by typing reference 21/00755/PAC into Bracknell Forest Council’s planning portal here: https://planapp.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/online-applications/