DC Casebook: Housing: New Build - Hospital homes judged to affect setting

The conversion of a former cottage hospital in south Wales into 11 flats and construction of new homes in the grounds have been blocked because of their impact on the conservation area setting.

The scheme involved two buildings with eight dwellings. These would be so closely positioned and of such similar proportions as to appear as one continuous building extending across almost the full site width, the inspector found. The modest articulation of the roof line would do little to disguise their scale and massing, he decided. This harm would be compounded by the overbearing impact on a neighbouring property, he held.

Only three affordable homes were proposed as part of the development, against the council's requirement for four. The appellants submitted a financial appraisal highlighting abnormal costs associated with the renovation of the hospital, the removal of asbestos and foundation changes to preserve archaeological remains and drainage.

The inspector considered that some of these costs could have been anticipated during the site bidding process. However, he accepted that the recession had affected house prices and decided that three affordable units would be an acceptable contribution in the circumstances of the site. This did not imply that the council's 20 per cent affordable housing threshold should not be sought in other cases, he stressed.

In dismissing the appeal, he rejected the appellants' claim for costs. The council had consistently maintained its view that the new dwellings were unacceptable and this had been relayed to the appellants before they purchased the site, he found. Its objection was maintained after the appellants appealed against non-determination within the required period and evidence had been put forward to support its opposition, he ruled.

Inspector: Richard Poppleton; Hearing

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