Posted by: HamptonIona | May 13, 2010

Convent Development to go to Independent Design Review Committee

As part of the re-zoning review process, the City has now decided to implement an independent design review committee to review the Ashcroft proposal as part of the overall rezoning review and approval process. This committee will consist of an urban landscaper, an architect and a heritage expert. These three experts are independent consultants who are not from the Ottawa area. This is the first time that the City has used this type of independent design review panel to review a private developer’s rezoning/development application. The 2010 City budget allowed limited funding for this type of independent review and this is the pilot case.

The Review Committee’s review will be broad in scope and the proposed development will be reviewed on the following basis:

  • respective restoration of the heritage aspects,
  • integration of the new buildings,
  • opening up of views,
  • design and integration with the surrounding community,
  • community context,
  • provision of sufficient open space, pedestrian linkages,
  • location of vehicular access points,
  • building heights, massing, footprints and density
  • building uses
  • public and semi-public spaces
  • general design response

While Ashcroft has agreed to the formation and role of this Committee, the results of the Committee are not binding on Ashcroft. The Committee will produce a report which will be provided to the City’s Planning Staff (Doug James) and it is expected that the results of the committee will be a major determinant of the Planning Department’s report and ultimate recommendations. The Planning Department is, however, not bound by the recommendation of the Committee and it should be noted that this is the first time that the Planning Department will be receiving such an independent,City-sanctioned project review.

The Design Review Committee will be meeting with all affected parties including the community. At this time, it is not clear as to whether they will meet with the broad community or representatives from the various Community Groups. The Committee will also be touring the site and the neighbourhood.

The Committee will start its work in mid-May and is expected to provide its report by mid-June to the Planning Department. As noted in an earlier Hampton Iona website posting, the Planning Department has indicated that it will accept public comments until mid-June.

On a separate matter but related to the Convent, Ashcroft has officially dropped its court case with respect to the heritage designation of the Convent grounds. Ashcroft had been asking for an injuction against the heritage designation granted by the City based on alleged improper procedural issues. Ashcroft will still be appealing the heritage decision to the Ontario Conservation Board. Unlike the OMB, this Board does not have the power to bind the City or overturn its decisions. This Board is advisory in nature only and can only make recommendations to City Council and City Council can choose to ignore any such recommendations. Further details on the functioning and impact of the Ontario Conservation Board can be found in an earlier note posted on the Hampton Iona website.

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