DC Casebook: Housing: New build - Layout faulted due to vandalism threat

The construction of 61 sheltered apartments on the site of a former supermarket in Derbyshire has been held to breach important policies intended to safeguard residents' security.

The inspector dealt first with the scheme's impact on the character of the area and the setting of an adjoining conservation area. Although the U-shaped building would be higher than terraced dwellings in the locality, he agreed that its stepped roof and verticality would respect their form and design. It would remain generally domestic in scale despite its bulk and would not appear as an unbroken mass, he decided.

The appellants proposed 800m2 of on-site amenity space supplemented by a less formal garden area. The inspector decided that this would provide adequate facilities for residents, citing Planning Officers Society guidance that occupants of retirement housing do not require large areas of garden space. It was more important to ensure that external amenity areas were landscaped to a very high standard and provided visual interest for the majority of residents, he held.

Due to variations in site levels, part of the ground floor would be a semi-basement below an adjoining footway and the window sill height in some rooms would be less than 50cm above the footway level. The area was subject to antisocial behaviour, especially during the evening, and the inspector was concerned that these windows could be easily vandalised or broken.

Given residents' inability to maintain eye contact with passers-by, he feared this was likely to undermine perceptions of security and well-being. This applied particularly in the main lounge, which was intended to be a place of quiet enjoyment and relaxation. This shortcoming in the design of the scheme justified dismissing the appeal, he held.

DCS Number 100-069-346

Inspector Andrew Jeyes; Hearing.

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