School building refused in conservation area

An inspector upheld enforcement action and refused permission for a school building on former garden land in a London borough, finding that need and equality considerations did not outweigh harm to a conservation area.

The flat roof outbuilding had been constructed on rear garden land sold to a Jewish Orthodox school occupying neighbouring terraced properties and divided from the remaining garden land with a fence. The building functioned as a dining and assembly hall.

After finding no prejudice from service of the notice and correcting the notice to reflect the change in site ownership, the inspector considered the main issues in the deemed application seeking a five-year temporary permission. He found the contribution made by private and communal rear gardens to the character of the Victorian terrace important, a feature recognised in the conservation appraisal, and one which was not diminished by a lack of public view. He judged the coverage of the plot and design of the building incongruous in the layout of the rear spaces and it failed to preserve the appearance of the conservation area.

The inspector gave careful consideration to whether the public benefit of providing a school facility to support the Satmar community outweighed the less than substantial harm to the significance of the designated heritage asset but concluded it did not. Although he attributed significant weight to evidence of the growing accommodation needs of the school and the implications of the Equality Act 2010, in the overall balance he decided that these matters did not outweigh the considerable weight and importance attached to preserving the appearance of the conservation area and issued a split decision allowing the fencing and dismissing the appeal and upholding the notice in respect of the outbuilding.

Inspector: Iwan LLoyd; Written representations

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