Buildings held excessive at green belt school

Alterations and extensions to a former school in Middlesex have been rejected on the grounds that they would involve inappropriate development in the metropolitan green belt.

The grade II listed villa had been built in 1812 as a rectory for a nearby church and was in a conservation area. Planning permission had been granted in 1984 for its use as a school, various extensions and new buildings. The school use ceased in 2003 and the building was placed on English Heritage's buildings at risk register.

The appellant's plans to reuse the site as a private school required four new buildings, the largest being a multipurpose hall. The inspector was concerned that the overall scale of development was excessive for a green belt site. If the school failed, he remarked, alternative uses would need to be found for the substantial buildings proposed.

In his view, there was no justification for the size of hall proposed and the prospects for generating non-educational income from its use were uncertain. The amount of enabling development proposed to secure the listed building's restoration had not been shown to be only the minimum necessary, he held.

The inspector awarded partial costs to the council over the appellant's failure to provide a planning obligation dealing with repairs to the building before development started and its future upkeep, noting that inquiry time had been wasted on this matter. The appellant's slowness in completing a statement of common ground had also wasted council time, he ruled.

Inspector: Paul Jackson; Inquiry.

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