The prominent corner site lay in a highly accessible location close to the town centre, with tall commercial buildings opposite. The inspector, however, found the site formed part of the pleasant, spacious leafy suburb beyond the town centre. She decided that although the high density scheme of blocks ranging from three to five storeys would make an efficient use of land, the tall bulky building would not respect its immediate context and would appear cramped and overdeveloped, incongruous in the street scene.
The inspector also considered the living condition of neighbours and occupiers, finding the proposal would overbear neighbouring homes and disturb residents with noise from use of a shared amenity space. Additionally, some of the new flats would be overlooked, have a poor outlook and inadequate natural light, contrary to SPG standards. These findings added to her concern over the impact of an out-of-keeping design on the character and appearance of the area, contrary to development plan policy and NPPF objective of creating high quality buildings and places, and so she dismissed the appeal.
In reaching her decision the inspector gave little weight to an allowed appeal for a similar scheme on a site in a comparable location between town centre and suburb, finding differences in layout and design. She also gave no weight to the provision of 22 affordable homes within the development in the absence of a legal undertaking, and a lack of harm to highway safety and biodiversity were neutral factors in her decision.
Inspector: Katie McDonald; Written representations