Design of mixed-use blocks incompatible with local context

A mixed-use redevelopment including 88 flats and a mix of retail and business uses at a main crossroads junction in south-west London was refused for harm to the character and appearance of the area because of its inappropriate height, mass and form in relation to the other corner buildings at the junction.

The proposal included replacing a derelict four storey retail/office building and a two-storey public house with two part seven, part nine storey blocks of flats with shared communal first floor garden and retail/business uses at ground floor. One of the main issues in the case related to the design concept of the proposal. The inspector accepted that the existing appeal site buildings formed an eyesore in a very prominent location and noted the site was earmarked for mixed-use redevelopment in the local plan. However, the council’s policy specifically referred to requiring an exceptionally designed scheme in this location, referred to height limitations and made reference to an existing planning permission granted in 2013. That included mainly five storey elements with a very narrow eight storey tower.

In assessing the design of the appeal proposal, the inspector held the form of the building was inappropriate in its context and would not relate well to the horizontal emphases expressed in the buildings at the other three corners of the crossroads, their axial layout and unbroken frontages wrapping around the connecting roads. He also felt the much greater height of the proposal compared to the surrounding buildings and its greater massing compared to the previous permission, would appear over-dominant, and was unmerited by any civic significance. Although there was some confusion over the wording and interpretation of the council’s taller buildings policy in this location, the inspector fell back on the policy justification which still referred to requiring proposals to be of exceptional design and respect local context. He concluded the proposal would conflict with adopted local and national polices for promoting good design and felt the benefits of redeveloping the site could be achieved by a more sympathetic scheme.

Inspector: Brendan Lyons; Hearing

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