Heritage benefits compromised by overdevelopment

Plans for the refurbishment and reuse of a Victorian ticket office and station master’s house in a London Borough conservation area failed when an inspector judged significant heritage benefits were undermined by the addition of another building.

The proposals would see the ticket office, facing onto a vibrant mixed commercial and residential area, converted into a café or restaurant and extension and conversion of the station master’s house into two houses facing towards the railway set down in a cutting. The inspector was satisfied the scheme would bring the locally listed building back into beneficial use and reinstate original features such as a slate roof and timber windows, also enhancing the conservation area. However, she judged the introduction of a four storey block of four flats at the back of the site would intrude into the open railway setting of the station master’s house, giving it a squeezed in appearance that would also harm the conservation area. In her view, the public benefit of additional homes in the new block did not outweigh less than substantial harm to heritage assets.

On other issues, the inspector found the location and height of the block of flats in close proximity to the station house would result in poor living conditions for future occupiers in terms of poor outlook and inadequate private amenity space and for existing neighbours in terms of loss of daylight and outlook arising from overshadowing and an overbearing appearance. In reaching this conclusion she considered that while technical analysis demonstrated that two of the three BRE measures were satisfied, less tangible effects from a reduced vertical sky component would make rooms feel gloomier and should be taken into account. As a consequence of testing the appellant’s viability assessment at the hearing, the inspector also concluded that the scheme was capable of contributing towards affordable housing and as no provision had been made, the scheme failed to comply with the development plan in this respect too.

Inspector: Sheila Holden; Hearing

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