Excessive scale of care home would erode street's verdant character

A complex for 73 assisted living units on previously developed land just outside a Berkshire town was refused for harm to the character and appearance of the area, the visual erosion of the physical separation between settlements and loss of trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order.

The proposal would replace an existing disused mainly two-storey dwelling set in extensive mature landscaped grounds. The inspector considered the extensive grounds and mature trees contributed to the function that the area provided in forming a physical and visual gap between the urban area of the adjoining settlement and the next, as identified in the council’s landscape character assessment. In terms of the proposed care home, the inspector held that although perimeter trees would be retained at the site, the substantial footprint, scale and mass of the building would dominate and result in the loss of the open, spacious setting for the trees in contrast to the existing dwelling which was very clearly subsidiary to the landscape. The proposal involved the loss of a prominent, protected beech tree which the inspector considered would detrimentally erode the character of the verdant street. 

The appellant had promoted the scheme on the basis of arguing a need for older persons’ housing in an area with a lack of a five-year housing land supply. But the inspector considered the housing supply issue in detail and ultimately accepted the council’s stance that a six-year supply existed. On this finding, she afforded full weight to what she considered were the most important polices in determining the proposal, namely those aiming to safeguard the character and appearance of the area and the landscape setting of the settlements. The inspector noted the benefits of the scheme in making provision for older persons accommodation and to the local economy, but she held these were insufficient to overcome the statutory presumption in favour of the development plan.

Inspector: Caroline Mulloy; Inquiry


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