Student accommodation allowed despite two previous appeal refusals

Student accommodation for 38 units and 10 car parking spaces at a vacant public house in a Berkshire town was approved with no harm to the appearance and character of the area nor the local highway network, despite two previous refusals at the site for a similar development.

The difference between this student accommodation proposal and those previously refused at the site was that the current scheme involved two narrower and lower height buildings instead of one taller and broader block. The inspector at the prior appeal had been concerned about the combination of the front and side elevations of the single block merging visually to create a dominant, bulky building detracting from the character of the area which was of two storey Victorian terraced housing. The inspector in this current appeal felt the change of design approach to create two distinct smaller blocks overcame this concern and meant the character and appearance of the surrounding area was maintained. He also felt the proposal would represent a visual improvement on the current neglected appearance of what was a prominent site. 

A signed unilateral undertaking covenanted the car parking and travel plan provisions at the site which resulted in prohibiting students parking at the property, through a management plan, and initiatives regarding sustainable modes of travel meant the proposed use generating less vehicular trips throughout the day than that which would have occurred from the fallback use of the site as a public house. The inspector concluded that the proposal would not result in a material impact on the safety and efficiency of the local highway network.

Inspector: Richard Jones; Written representations

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