Scale of apartment blocks out of character and harmful to amenity

71 homes from a commercial garage site in a residential area of Essex were refused for their harmful impact on the character and appearance of the area and the living conditions of nearby occupiers.

The principle of residential development of the brownfield site was agreed but dispute remained regarding the scale of the proposal which would comprise five townhouses with apartment blocks of part 3, part 4 and part 6 storey heights. The inspector considered the character of the area was predominantly of two storey, terraced housing with some two, three and four storey properties further afield. She held that part of the proposed frontage building, with its four and six storey elements, would be of significantly greater bulk, mass and height than its neighbours which would not be compatible with that in the locality, conflicting with local and national policies on design. She also found the proposal would be harmful to the living conditions of adjoining occupiers by reason of loss of outlook due to the overbearing and enclosing nature of the proposed apartment blocks.

A partial award of costs was made against the council for unreasonable behaviour with regards to a reason for refusal on lack of affordable housing grounds. The inspector held their behaviour was not well founded due to the lack of weight given to the evidence in the viability assessment, endorsed by the council's own consultant, and the lack of weight given to development plan policies which allowed for lesser provision of affordable housing where viability issues were evidenced.

Inspector: RC Kirby; Written Representations

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