Earlier this year your local Area Planning Sub-Committee of councillors decided to refuse permission for a developer to demolish the existing house, Wessex, and build a block of nine flats in South Road, leading off Queen’s Road next to Tesco. An appeal was made by the developer against this decision and on 22 April the government’s Planning Inspectorate allowed the appeal, that is over-turned the decision of the Council committee.
Councillors had rejected the appeal because of the effect the proposed development would have on the narrow South Road, particularly in terms of safety, parking and access, and the implications for occupiers of nearby residential properties.
The Inspector commented that South Road is narrow in places and, due to the limited width and presence of yellow lines and on street parking, it only allows one car to pass at a time. But he considered:
‘that the parking restrictions in the area (including the CPZ) in combination with the accessibility of the location and the smaller dwelling types proposed, would serve to reduce the likelihood that many occupiers of the proposed development would choose to own a car. Highway pressure resulting from the vehicles of future occupants of the dwellings could therefore be adequately managed, subject to provision being made to exclude future occupants from benefiting from residents parking permits.’
Councillors also have to consider the effect of a development on the character of the area. The Inspector acknowledged that the proposed building would be larger than the existing dwelling, commenting that:
‘it would also have a more contemporary appearance, in particular due to the flat roof and window details. As this is a prominent site the development would change the appearance of the immediate locality. Notwithstanding this, the character of this part of South Road is derived from both the larger scale properties closer to Queens Road and the more modest buildings that are evident as you move away from it. In this regard, the character of the immediate area is mixed and a building off the scale and appearance proposed would not therefore be out of character.’
In terms of the impact on neighbouring properties, he evaluated: ‘I find this to be satisfactory in terms of preserving the privacy conditions of occupiers of South Lodge’ and ‘the east elevation of the proposed development would include windows/Juliet balconies facing towards the rear of properties on High Pine Close. Given the separation distances and other built forms nearby, it is considered that the proposed development would not impact on the privacy conditions of occupiers of these and other properties nearby.’
The appellant (the developer) is allowed to apply for costs to cover the amount they have spent to put the appeal case together. Interestingly, in this case the Inspector found that the Council did not act unreasonably in refusing the application. The application for an award of costs was therefore refused.