Links between form and historic plot pattern prove fundamental

An additional storey to create two, one-bed flats at a listed building in a historic Wiltshire city was refused planning permission and listed building consent for harm to the significance of the heritage asset itself and the character and appearance of the conservation area in which it was located.

The modern building was listed by virtue of incorporating elements of a sixteenth century timber frame and walling of the previous building at the site. This included the beam and bracket that once supported the first-floor overhang, key features on the frontage.

The inspector considered the special interest of the building lay in the evidential value held by remnants of the previous building and the extent to which the form and appearance of the building enabled these to be interpreted in relation to the historic plot and street pattern. Despite being altered since the listing description, the inspector noted the width of the building had not changed and still expressed the dimensions of the historic plot. Whilst the scheme did not involve changes to the width of the building at the front, it did involve an increase in width and changes to the roof form on the back of the building. As both the front and rear of the buildings had a strong presence in the public realm, the inspector held both the lack of consistency front to back and the changes to the form of the building would be clearly viewed externally and blur the linkages between the form of the building and its historic plot dimensions, undermining its significance and resulting in less than substantial harm. The inspector also considered the loss of the historic plot definition to the rear would harm the significance of the conservation area for much the same reasons as outlined in regard to the listed building. In this case the harm would be accentuated by the awkward physical and visual relationship which would be created with the adjoining building, which would appear to be partly enveloped by the enlarged building when viewed from the rear. 

In the heritage balance the inspector felt the addition of two units and any economic benefits were insufficient public benefit to justify the harm to the significance of the listed building and the conservation area. 

Inspector: Benjamin Webb; Written representations

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