A previous appeal was dismissed last year due to the scheme's adverse impact on the character of the area. The council asserted that the revised proposal would be out of scale with its setting and the use of full-height glazing on the front elevation would be out of character with the design of more traditional houses in the area. It also claimed that a rear retaining wall required by the sloping nature of the land would be visually dominant.
The inspector disagreed, observing that the apartments would be of similar height and scale to adjoining properties under the revised scheme. The depth of the development would also be similar, he added. The retaining wall would not harm the character of the area because it would be stepped back and landscaped, he decided.
He noted that the previous decision had given a clear indication of what would be acceptable on the site and considered that the appellant had tackled his colleague's concerns. The council's decision to reject the revised proposal was unreasonable because it failed to offer cogent reasons for departing from the previous inspector's assessment, he held. Its failure to substantiate objections about highways harm and ground instability also amounted to unreasonable behaviour, he decided.
The site was a redundant sandpit and had experienced subsidence, requiring underpinning of adjacent premises on two previous occasions. The inspector acknowledged the statement in Planning Policy Wales that developers are responsible for determining the effects and extent of instability. However, he decided that a condition to secure details of the foundations and investigate ground stability was necessary and reasonable.
DCS Number 100-058-329
Inspector Iwan Lloyd; Hearing.