The council had withdrawn its reasons for refusal before the appeal, but the inspector noted there were outstanding issues, raised by third parties, relating to the effect of the proposal on living conditions of neighbours, air pollution, highway safety, heritage assets and the character and appearance of the area. Of these, the inspector considered the determinative issue was the impact of the proposed seven storey building on designated heritage assets near to the appeal site.
Concerns raised by third parties included the excessive scale and height of the building. But the inspector noted the building would be similar in height to one opposite and the site was on a busy local intersection and in a shopping centre where, although the building would appear prominent, its scale and rhythmic street-facing elevations would appropriately address this focal corner plot and contribute positively to the character of the area. However, the site was located close to two conservation areas and a grade II listed church and vicarage. The inspector held that as the proposed seven storey building would be visible from views out of the conservation areas and from the listed buildings, it would result in less than substantial harm to their significance. Nonetheless, the inspector held this harm was tempered by the separation distances involved and the variety of building heights and styles in the surrounding townscape.
In weighing the public benefits of the proposal against the less than substantial harm found to heritage assets, the inspector concluded the boost to housing supply from the 50 units and the economic benefits of the commercial uses were of greater weight. The inspector acknowledged some conflict with the development plan's heritage policies but found compliance with it overall.
Inspector: S D Castle; Written representations