High density flats judged out of keeping

An inspector refused outline permission for a five storey building comprising 2,165 square metres of ground floor retail with 119 flats above, following demolition of an existing mixed use building outside a Berkshire town centre.

The inspector gave due weight to the benefit of new flats given the council’s acknowledged significant shortfall in housing land supply in reaching his decision, but found too many flaws in the proposed development to sanction the scheme.

The proposals would significantly raise residential density on the site from 28 dwellings per hectare (dph) to 238 dph. In the inspectors’ opinion, while the local plan directed high density housing to the town centre, density calculations alone were not determinative and the NPPF sought the efficient use of previously-developed land, encouraging building on or above service yards and car parks, as proposed. However, he judged the extensive plot coverage, the likely height and massing of the new building would be out of scale in its out of centre surroundings, also expressing reservation as to whether the increase in activity arising from so many new one and two bedroom flats could be successfully assimilated.

In addition to harming the character and appearance of the area, the inspector found the building’s mass would appear overbearing and oppressive in outlook from a neighbouring flat and facing windows between habitable rooms would result in overlooking and loss of privacy for neighbours and occupiers of some of the proposed flats. Windowless kitchens in many of the two bedroomed flats was a further concern. A lack of any on-site affordable housing provision went unjustified, as did the intended mix of only small one and two bedroom units flats. 

Inspector: Neil Pope; Written representations

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