Garrison redevelopment out of character with historic context

The construction of 94 dwellings within a former army garrison in an Essex conservation area was dismissed because it failed to adequately respect the historic context of the site.

200-001-230 (Image Credit: Colchester Borough Council)
200-001-230 (Image Credit: Colchester Borough Council)

Outline planning permission for the redevelopment of the site had been granted in 2003 and reserved matters approval had been granted in 2011 for 80 dwellings on former cavalry barracks buildings, with four buildings being retained because of their historic interest. English Heritage stated that the buildings including a single storey smithy, a sergeant’s mess, troop stables and former regimental institute made a significant contribution to the character of the conservation area.

The appellants argued that their demolition would enable a new layout to be developed which would carry forward the style and form of residential development built on adjoining blocks designed to reflect the Victorian character of the locality. They asserted that the overall viability of development on the garrison site had been placed at risk due to the economic downturn and no affordable housing was therefore envisaged within the planned redevelopment of the appeal site. It would also ensure that other garrison buildings would be retained with the potential to develop a visitor centre.

An inspector agreed that the four buildings made a contribution to the history of the site but their loss would be less than substantial. Nonetheless, the planned scheme would in part lead to a car-dominated layout with a lack of active ground floor surveillance. Some residents would also experience somewhat poor and austere living environments. In terms of the overall viability of the scheme there were signs that the economy was improving and house prices were likely to rise. This might enable a scheme to be progressed which enabled the buildings to be retained.

Inspector Philip Asquith; Hearing

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