The site comprised vacant land surrounded by multi-lane highways. The proposed development included office, hotel, residential and ground-floor retail and community space in two towers of 53 and 42 storeys connected by a ten-storey podium, alongside a new public square. In determining the recovered appeal, the secretary of state wholeheartedly supported his inspector’s conclusions.
The proposal would deliver 257 homes, including 23 affordable units. A £30 million contribution towards a further 54 affordable homes off-site took the overall affordable content to 30 per cent. Although this was below an adopted local plan policy requirement for 40 per cent, the secretary of state found that a viability assessment demonstrated that the proportion proposed was the maximum amount achievable. This made the proposal policy-compliant overall, he decided.
He praised the scheme’s outstanding design in townscape terms and noted that the area was identified as a location suitable for a tall buildings cluster. Although the proposal would exceed adopted local plan height restrictions for this location, he saw this discrepancy as a technical conflict because of the number of other buildings exceeding the 150-metre upper limit either approved or built in the area.
As the proposal would also contribute to the local plan’s aspiration of creating a new district centre, the secretary of state held that the mix of uses and benefits they would bring carried substantial weight in its favour. The scheme was in accordance with the development plan overall and its various benefits would meet particular development plan objectives, he concluded.
Inspector: John Braithwaite; Inquiry