Stable block design for new housing misleading given scale and design

The conversion of a hostel occupying a grade II listed building in south-east London to 10 apartments and the construction of a three storey stable block comprising seven dwellings, was rejected because of its harm to the heritage asset. Planning permission and listed building consent was withheld.

In accepting that the external changes to the building which dated from 1850 would not be significantly harmful, an inspector deduced that internal changes including the construction of a basement would detract from an appreciation of its significance as a mid-19th century dwelling which had been remodelled in the 1920’s. The resulting rooms would in most cases remain as fine rooms but some would be materially altered changing the form and layout of the building.

The ‘U’ shaped building within the grounds would by two and half storeys in height and it call it a stable block was somewhat misleading the inspector concluded. Its footprint would be greater than the listed building and its height was well in excess of what would normally be associated with a stable block. It would adopt the same building line as the main house which would mean it would complete rather than complement the existing building and the domestic style design would also present an uncomfortable contrast.

There was a clear public benefit in finding a beneficial use of the listed building since it represented part of the country’s heritage. The evidence submitted by the appellant on viability grounds did not provide a convincing case. It appeared that the purchase price exceeded what it was worth and this had the effect of placing the future of the listed building in jeopardy which when it was coupled to a 20% profit margin, led to the need to accommodate a significantly greater level of development than was appropriate.

Inspector: John Gray; Hearing

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