Extra-care accommodation design unsuitable

An inspector determined that the erection of an extra-care facility in Essex would give rise to an inappropriate design and harm the Epping Forest special area of conservation.

The scheme involved a series of linked blocks on land occupied by a bungalow and two detached houses. The architect had devised a scheme which took advantage of the sloping site, with up to six storeys of accommodation with linked blocks forming a ‘C’ shape around a central courtyard. It was visually well contained, and the inspector agreed that a suitable redevelopment would make more effective use of a brownfield site close to a town centre. However, he had doubts about the excessive bulk and massing of parts of the scheme including a large scale gable feature. It would not provide, as the appellant suggested, a transition between residential and institutional uses and it would not provide an active outlook for residents.

A further concern was the potential impact on the SAC as a result of traffic generation. The proposal would contribute towards increased nitrogen dioxides and ammonia. The council were working with Natural England to prepare an air quality mitigation strategy but  there was no firm date for its completion. The inspectror  rejected the appellant’s claim that in isolation the scheme would have a minimal impact on air quality. Cumulatively, small schemes would add to the deterioration of air quality and until adequate mitigation had been agreed as part of an emerging local plan, this also counted against the scheme.

Inspector: David Reed; Inquiry

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