The vacant office building was listed for its imposing three storey stone exterior and internal plasterwork reflecting its original domestic use as a grand town house. The council had refused the proposal on the grounds that the conversion would result in some rooms being poorly subdivided, but the appellant claimed they had proposed the minimum necessary. The scheme included the removal of a non-original staircase, introduction of top-opening windows to the front elevation and resulted in chimney breasts being located in newly formed hallways. The inspector felt this would make the original layout of the building difficult to understand and its character as a grand town house would be diminished, resulting in less than substantial harm. Because she had received no information from the appellant to conclude that an alternative layout would not be viable, and the council were happy with the principle of conversion to residential, she concluded the public benefits proposed did not outweigh the harm to the building’s significance.
Inspector: Sarah Colebourne; Written representations