CASEBOOK: College block criticised for incongruous design

A proposed education block within the campus of a sixth form college in a north-west London conservation area has been rejected as a discordant and incongruous feature that harmed an area of special character adjoining metropolitan open land.

The inspector noted that the college's surroundings had an attractive and predominantly residential character, with many large detached dwellings set in extensive gardens and some more recent flats. He considered that distinctive buildings, significant open spaces and numerous groups of mature trees added greatly to the area's special quality.

He shared the local authority's concerns regarding the overall scale, mass and design of the new block, which would be between two and three storeys in height. In his view, the structure's strong horizontal emphasis and lack of detail compared to other buildings on the site would result in a harmful contrast with its neighbours, neither preserving nor enhancing the character of the conservation area.

Also singled out for criticism was the lack of visual interest and articulation in the side elevations. The inspector considered that this would only emphasise the greater scale of the new building and hence the harmful contrast with its neighbours. He felt that the use of an inverted V-shaped roof form, while reducing the overall bulk, was incongruous in an area where outward-sloping pitched roofs predominated. He also gave weight to the threat to the retention and health of two trees protected by an area-based tree preservation order.

DCS No: 53919357; Inspector: Michael Hetherington; Hearing.

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