Loss of non-designated heritage asset unsubstantiated

The redevelopment of a non-designated heritage asset for nine apartments in a Cambridgeshire town has been refused for adverse harm to the asset and the surrounding conservation area significantly outweighing the benefits of the new homes, despite a housing shortfall in the area.

The inspector noted that the building to be demolished as part of the redevelopment, which had been unused for some time, was listed on the council’s buildings of local interest register as a rare and good example of a Queen Anne Revival style in the area and was designed by a noted architect. In a local context, the inspector considered the building had a high level of architectural and historic significance. The appellant had submitted evidence, in an attempt to comply with the council’s policy on removal of such buildings, stating the building was subject to subsidence making it structurally unsound and unviable to retain. But one cost-effective method by which the building could be retained, which was to remove the trees causing subsidence and allow the building to settle as the clay subsoil re-hydrated, had not in the inspector’s opinion been sufficiently investigated. This meant the appellant’s evidence fell short of demonstrating the building was beyond reasonable repair and could, as an exception, be demolished.

In terms of the replacement scheme for nine flats, the inspector held the proposed building would have a similar presence in, and effect on, the street scene as the existing. However, he opined this would not extinguish the harm to the authenticity of the conservation area resulting in less than substantial harm to the heritage asset. In the heritage balance for the conservation area, the inspector concluded this harm would be moderately outweighed by the benefits of the new homes in an area of housing shortfall. However, when combined with the severe adverse harm of the loss of the non-designated heritage building itself, the inspector concluded the adverse impacts of the overall scheme would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the NPPF taken as a whole.

Inspector: Graham Chamberlain; Written representations

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