Contemporary flat design out of character with conservation area

Erecting a three-storey block of nine flats in a conservation area in southeast London would fail to respect the character of a 19th century terrace and lead future occupiers to experience excessive noise levels from a nearby studio used for playing music, an inspector held, and dismissed the appeal.

In support of the appeal the appellant asserted that a planning permission dating from 2010 was capable of being implemented and this provided a building of similar size and footprint to the appeal. He disputed the council’s contention that the permission was no longer extant because of a failure to discharge various conditions. He claimed that none of these went to the heart of the permission and consequently did not preclude its construction.

In making a ruling on whether a legitimate fallback position existed the inspector decided that the lawfulness of the appellant’s position could be established via a lawful development certificate and it was not his role to consider it as part of a section 78 appeal. This was despite the appellant stating that the 2010 scheme remained viable and would be implemented if the appeal was dismissed.

The proposed design, involving a mono-pitched roof, when coupled with its scale, bulk and size would overwhelm the property on the front part of the site and would detract from the character and appearance of the conservation area. The proximity of the site to business studios which were used by various occupiers for producing and sometimes playing music, was an additional concern. While the majority of these had adequate sound proofing, one unit did not and during the inspector's site visit music was clearly audible on the appeal site. In his opinion this could be a source of annoyance if people were trying to relax in the outdoor gardens and amenity space. Since no mechanism existed to soundproof the studio in question the impact could not be mitigated.

Inspector: Jeremy Sargent; Hearing

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