The inspector acknowledged that the scheme would bring life to the site and provide an opportunity for replacing a worn-out building. He accepted that it did not need to replicate or ape the design or materials of the 19th century buildings making up the conservation area. But he considered that it should show respect for the architectural and historic characteristics of its surroundings.
In his view, the height and substantial mass of the building would be at odds with the essentially domestic scale of the two-storey Victorian properties in adjoining streets. He considered that it would be overbearing and would adversely affect the setting of nearby listed buildings. He agreed that the thrust of PPG3 is towards higher densities but held that this consideration does not automatically outweigh all others.
The inspector noted that the width of the passageway serving the site was below the standard set out in Design Bulletin 32. He did not consider that it was capable of safely accommodating a significantly increased level of pedestrian and vehicular activity. Visibility would not meet the required standard, he added. Given the scale of pedestrian and vehicular activity generated by the student accommodation and the busy nature of the road, he considered that a safe and convenient means of access was imperative.
DCS No: 100039201; Inspector: Alan Robinson; Hearing.