The neglected site comprising former garden land was behind walls adjacent to listed almshouses, a landmark building in the heart of an eclectic conservation area. The proposals included retaining and pollarding important lime trees and erecting a two storey flat-roof building on the upper part of the site, with works to curtilage listed boundary walls, external steps and an air raid shelter, which would be retained as a store. The new building would have a planted green roof with rooflights and solar panels and much of the site would remain open.
The council, civic society and other interested parties considered the proposal an unsympathetic form of development, although Historic England had not objected. In the inspector’s opinion, while the new building would be of a very different design and appearance from the neighbouring listed building, it was an innovative and interesting design that would not detract from the almshouses, and would add to the character of the conservation area.
The inspector gave considerable weight to the benefits of the proposals, particularly in terms of increasing the stock of purpose-built student accommodation on a brownfield site and reducing pressure to convert existing family accommodation or to build on greenfield land. Combined with the design attributes he had identified, he concluded these benefits outweighed less than substantial harm to the significance of the grade II* listed almshouses, and he allowed the appeal, granting planning permission and listed building consent.
Inspector: Neil Pope; Written representations