CASEBOOK: Appeal cases - Community Facilities - Temple pavilions ruled out on design grounds

A proposal for a glazed pavilion to house a ceremonial cart at a Hindu temple in west London has been refused on the grounds that it would be harmful to the character and appearance of the temple and the surrounding conservation area.

The locally listed temple was a former Baptist chapel located in a street characterised by substantial Victorian terraced housing. The inspector observed that the frontage had a "rugged symmetry", with a strong pediment and a projecting central entrance portico flanked by high, curved top windows. The ceremonial cart, which was kept to one side of the portico and used in processions on special days, was an ornate vehicle some 6m high and colourfully decorated.

The inspector decided to uphold an enforcement notice against a tarpaulin cover on scaffolding that had been put in place over the cart as a temporary measure. He found it to be an unattractive and demeaning adornment that was conspicuous within the street scene and out of keeping with its surroundings, holding that the harm caused could not be allowed to continue for the three years for which temporary permission was sought.

The longer-term solution proposed was to house the cart in a glazed pavilion that would be complemented by a duplicate pavilion on the other side of the portico. The inspector agreed that placing the cart on display could make a vibrant and positive contribution to the street scene and would help express both the new religious function of the building and the mixed cultural heritage of the area in a dramatic and attractive fashion, in line with council policies.

However, despite the intended transparency of the pavilions, he found that they would have a clearly discernible shape and substance of their own. In his view, they would be over-dominant and would obstruct appreciation of the facade as a whole. He concluded that the proposal would harm the character and appearance of the locally listed building and reduce its contribution to the street scene and the conservation area.

DCS No: 35546259; Inspector: Robert Gardener; Written representations.

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