Mixed use scheme judged to have multiple planning issues

The demolition of buildings classed as having townscape merit in Surrey to facilitate a mixture of retail, office and residential units was judged to be unacceptable by an inspector because of their adverse impact on the quality of the area and issues over parking restrictions and the delivery of affordable housing.

Although the buildings were not statutorily listed, they dated from the 1850s and made a positive contribution to the historic environment and sense of place, the inspector opined. The proposed design, while trying to replicate an active frontage and building line, would fail to maintain the character of the area and the absence of a valid planning obligation which would prevent future residential occupiers from applying for on-street parking permits meant that a car-free development could not be secured.

Nor was the inspector convinced about the appellant’s claim that a 20 per cent profit level had to be achieved and as such no affordable housing could be secured. Profit levels varied from development to development and there was no universal right to assume a 20 per cent return on investment. A robust justification for offering no affordable units had not been provided and since the units proposed did not match the requirements in a strategic housing market assessment, this was a further objection to the development. The loss of office floorspace added to the inspector’s raft of reasons for refusing permission.

Inspector: Alastair Phillips; Written representations

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