Mixed-use scheme given green light in conservation area

A mixed-use redevelopment scheme for 15 flats and two retail units has been approved in a Berkshire settlement’s town centre conservation area with no harm to the appearance and character of the area, to the living conditions of future or existing occupiers or to the provision of affordable housing.

The inspector firstly opined that the existing single, two-storey Victorian building and large car park at the appeal site was of limited historic interest and made a neutral contribution to the character and appearance of the area. He considered the proposal to develop two buildings on the site around a central courtyard would complement the prevailing pattern and scale of existing local built form and was subtle, with variety in form and material, adding interest to the area and preserving and enhancing the significance of the conservation area. 

In terms of concerns about living conditions for future occupiers, the inspector held the reduced provision of external space, which on the face of it conflicted with adopted policy, was outweighed by the benefits of the proposal in terms of its proximity to public transport and high street services. He felt the pockets of grassed external space, balconies and communal terrace were sufficient and would provide a significant proportion of the policy requirement.

With respect to adjoining occupiers, the proposal did not meet the council’s design guidance in terms of maintaining a 21-metre distance to neighbouring properties, but the inspector held the appellant’s daylight and sunlight assessment had found the scheme would accord with Building Research Establishment guidance and that was sufficient for him. He felt the proposal would present a series of shapes and forms of varying heights, materials and roof forms that would act together to reduce the overall impact of overlooking for another property also affected. On this aspect, the inspector concluded the proposal would not significantly adversely affect the living conditions of future occupiers or those of existing adjoining occupiers.

Inspector: Ben Plenty; Written representations

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