Scale and design of aparthotel unacceptable

A mixed-use redevelopment for retail and aparthotel for 51 units across two buildings was refused in the town centre of a seaside settlement in Essex for harm to the appearance and character of the surrounding conservation area by reason of its scale and design and for harm to the living conditions of the occupiers of neighbouring properties through loss of outlook from their rear gardens. The demolition of the existing buildings on the site, which had already taken place, was approved, however.

In looking at the proposed replacement scheme the inspector considered because of its form, height and plainer modern design, the frontage building of the aparthotel would appear bulky and domineering. It would be markedly at odds with the traditional buildings within the conservation area surrounding it, and which were generally more modestly scaled in form, varied and detailed in their architecture. The inspector felt similarly concerned about the larger seven storey building proposed to the rear of the site which he considered would appear domineering given its design, height and bulk when viewed through gaps within the street and thus would harm the character and appearance of the area generally. With the demolition of the former hotel, he accepted the existing site negatively contributed to the character and appearance of the conservation area but felt the design, height and bulk of the proposal would result in a far greater negative impact on the conservation area, not outweighed by the economic benefits of the new retail units and hotel accommodation. 

The inspector also considered residents' outlook at adjoining properties would be dominated by the height and bulk of the proposed rear building, even above the existing boundary treatments. The rear building would stretch across the full width of these gardens and planting on the balconies would only offer limited visual relief. He also felt that proposed mitigating tree planting would also be of limited visual relief because any specimens would take some considerable time to become established and provide high level screening, and their retention could not be secured.

Inspector: Jonathon Parsons; Hearing

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