Tourist eco-pods too harmful to heritage assets

Eight holiday eco-pods in a conservation area in Shropshire were refused for harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area and the setting of an adjoining listed building with the tourism benefits of the scheme not outweighing either of these harms.

The inspector considered the significance of the adjoining 16th century listed building lay in its historical associations with the management of an estate associated with a nearby hall and its isolated setting in a purposefully wide clearing in the conservation area. He considered the appellant’s heritage assessment failed to consider the effect of the proposed timber pods on either the conservation area or the listed building. The inspector held the introduction of the pods, associated car park and service infrastructure would give rise to a significant change in the character and appearance of the land and cause an urbanising effect and level of activity that would undermine the semi-natural appearance of the site and reduce its atmosphere of quiet rural seclusion. The erosion of these qualities would consequently fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area. In terms of the impact on the listed building, the inspector considered the effect of introducing the proposed use and development into a large part of the adjoining site would undermine the focus currently drawn to the building and its wider sense of detachment, particularly experienced from the adjacent and nearby footpaths. 

The inspector concluded, in the heritage balance, that the low level of employment opportunities and increased tourism offer would be benefits of the proposal but that these were insufficient to outweigh the less than substantial harm he had identified to the character and appearance of the conservation area or the setting of the listed building. 

Inspector: Robert Hitchcock; Written representations

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