A plan to build six condos at the back of a large lot on London’s east side earned the ire of neighbours and the endorsement of city politicians Monday night.
The infill project, planned for what is essentially a large backyard on Hale Street, is not going over well with nearby residents, who argued the mini-community will increase noise in the area and drastically intrude on their privacy.
Coun. Jesse Helmer, whose ward includes the property near Highbury Avenue and Brydges Street, was blunt with the citizens who gathered at city hall.
“I understand why people want to keep it, because it’s great green space and adds to the serenity of the neighbourhood,” he said of the property, largely empty except for a home that faces Hale Street at the front of the lot.
But even if council sided with angry residents – which Helmer described as “uniformly opposed” after canvassing the area – it’s likely the tribunal that hears land planning issues would overturn that decision, he said, pointing to policies that allow and encourage this kind of development.
It’s an example of the inward and upward style of growth this council has championed as part of the London Plan in a bid to reduce costly urban sprawl.
And the builder, Artisan Homes, wants to make sure the neighbourhood “remains comfortable and happy and stable,” a consultant told politicians.
“Artisan wants to be a good neighbour . . . they know that part of the success of an infill housing project is in being a good neighbour,” Laverne Kirkness said in a presentation on behalf of the company.
Artisan Homes owner Jerry Knoester told the planning committee he’s opted not to knock down the existing house at 459 Hale St., as the structure will help camouflage the condos.
“You could drive past the house 100 times and never even see it,” he said.
But neighbours surrounding the property were concerned about sightlines at the back of the property. One resident told politicians those living in the condos would be able to see into his hot tub and spot what’s cooking on his barbecue, adding the proposal doesn’t fit with the neighbourhood and would make “the whole area look terrible.”
The planning committee opted to recommend larger trees and landscaping around the property, voting 5-0 in favour of creating a “buffer” between the single-family homes and the proposed condos as part of the zoning approval. The final decision rests with city council next week.
Helmer said despite the backlash, the project is more in line with the neighbourhood than other potential alternatives for the lot, such as a small apartment building.
“In terms of fitting in, this is probably the best proposal we’re going to see.”