Mixed-use scheme insufficient to remedy loss of heritage asset

A housing-led mixed-use scheme to replace a locally listed dwelling at a Dorset quayside has been refused with the harm to the appearance and character of the area from the loss of the building not outweighed by the benefits of the eight new flats and office space.

The determining factor in this case was the limited weight the inspector afforded the mixed-use element of the proposal. The port area was earmarked for employment uses solely in the adopted plan, but the scheme proposed a greater area of residential use than office component. In his mind, this limited the weight the inspector could afford to the scheme’s benefits, despite the overall increase in employment floorspace proposed, and tilted his deliberations towards a refusal. 

The former public house, dating back to the early 19th century, had been locally listed for its architectural as well as historic and social significance. The inspector considered that, despite the fact the council had allowed a dwelling-use at the site and therefore the loss of its social significance, the building was an attractive one which made a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the area. He concluded its loss would conflict with adopted policy to enhance the significance of such assets. The inspector did note, however, that prior approval for demolition had been granted by the council and so the appellant’s ability to carry out demolition works was a material consideration. But he went on to opine that as there was no firm evidence of an intention to demolish the building and in the absence of an approved redevelopment scheme, he therefore attributed limited weight to the possibility.

In his consideration of the replacement scheme, the inspector held the design of the proposed replacement building was neutral in the planning balance as it neither harmed nor improved the appearance and character of the area. This meant that as he had found that there would be harm resulting from the loss of the locally listed building, overall moderate harm would arise in respect of the character and appearance of the area. In his conclusion, the inspector stated that without evidence of any clear attempt to retain the building in any form of viable ongoing use, he found little justification for its loss and as he had given only limited weight to the benefits of the mixed-use replacement scheme, he concluded there was no clear support for this development on this site.  

Inspector: M Bale; Written representations

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