Flats failed over design at locally listed house site

Plans for 25 sheltered apartments would not deliver enough public benefits to justify demolition of a locally listed building in Reading, an inspector has decided.

200-008-046 (Image Credit: Reading BC)
200-008-046 (Image Credit: Reading BC)

The former house, designed by a locally important architect in the late 19th century, was described as having "exuberant" polychromatic brickwork and stone dressings, a yellow stock brickwork plinth and a fretted timber gable. It had been used by the NHS as offices, creating a warren of small rooms. The appellant argued that its loss would cause limited harm given its poor internal condition, including a multitude of fire doors, poor-quality partitions, sloping ceilings and grubby and stained walls.

None of these features was irreversible, the inspector opined. In her view, the building reflected its domestic origins and was typical of others built at the same time that formed part of the city’s architectural history. In contrast, she judged the proposed design of the sheltered flats bulky, dominant and out of scale with the area, despite attempts to break up the massing with dormers, varying eaves heights, gables and half-hipped roofs.

She disagreed with the appellant’s claim that the building would sit comfortably in its town centre setting. The appeal proposal would lead to an unacceptably high density and site coverage, unacceptable levels of overlooking and loss of privacy for some adjoining residents, she held. She was also concerned about the loss of a high-quality lime tree, finding that planned replacement trees would not offset the harm to the area’s amenity.

Inspector: Gyllian Grindey; Hearing

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