Casebook: Appeal cases - Housing: new build - Outlook problem blocks residential development

Proposals for 30 flats and ten houses on a site in the West Midlands have been rejected on residential amenity grounds despite concessions that they would not jeopardise the character and appearance of the area, crime protection, highway safety or the provision of a community facility on adjacent land.

The council considered that the scheme failed to have regard to advice in PPG3 that design and layout must be informed by the wider context.

But the inspector opined that although other development in the vicinity comprised mainly detached houses, it included other houses and apartments similar to those in the appeal scheme.

He did not accept that the proposal would be out of keeping with the wider locality. He found that its density was in line with PPG3's objective to make best use of land and concluded that the proposal would not cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the area.

He noted the council's argument that landscaped areas around the apartment building would not provide adequate amenity space. However, he held that lack of privacy in such areas is a usual consequence where communal amenity space is provided. Occupiers would also be able to use whatever public open space was provided under a section 106 agreement, he pointed out.

The council also suggested that the scheme would increase the risk of crime due to a lack of demarcation between public and private space. But the inspector found that all the parking and open space on the site would be private, albeit communal, and that these areas would be overlooked from adjacent windows. He concluded that the development would provide satisfactory living conditions in terms of amenity space provision and protection from crime.

However, the inspector found one compelling objection. He was satisfied that the appeal scheme would cause significant harm to the outlook from the rear of an adjoining house and its back garden. He decided that the harm caused to the neighbours' living conditions was sufficiently serious to justify dismissing the appeal.

DCS No: 31440107; Inspector: Steve Amos; Written representations.

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