Planning Inspector Mike Worden has allowed an appeal against refusal of planning permission for 206 dwellings in Staines Town Centre by Spelthorne Borough Council. The main issues on appeal were: the effect of the proposal (due to height) on the character and appearance of the area, and the living conditions of nearby residents due to car parking pressure.
The appeal scheme proposed two towers (of 13 and 15 storeys) on the derelict site of a former Masonic Hall building. The site was in the heart of Staines close to the High Street and River Thames. The 15-storey tower would be the tallest building in Staines.
In a decision which will be of interest to those dealing with ‘tall buildings’ in city centres, the Inspector found that the proposal would make a positive contribution to the street scene and wider area. Importantly the need to pay due regard to the height of a proposal did not equate to requiring the proposed building to be limited to the height of its surroundings. Instead, while the proposal would ‘present something distinctly different’ to the other buildings this was not harmful and constituted good design.
Furthermore, the Inspector’s dismissed the Council’s concerns on the amount of car parking provided in the development (which was lower than the Council’s parking standards). The appeal scheme was being promoted as car-free development which was appropriate in this very accessible location. The Inspector gave significant weight to the highway authorities view that developments with limited to no parking were appropriate for Staines Town Centre – an illustration of the importance placed on sustainable transport arrangements in planning.
In the final planning balance, the Inspector found only minor harm to one viewpoint and that the development carried several benefits including providing homes in an area of under-delivery where there was no five year supply, and making use of a prominent town-centre site whose current state detracted from the area.
Paul & Piers were instructed for Inland Homes Ltd by Simon Slatford, Lichfields.
The Appellant called the following expert witnesses:
Planning: Simon Slatford, Senior Director at Lichfields
Urban Design: Colin Pullan BA (Hons) DipUD, Head of Design and Masterplanning, Lambert Smith Hampton
Highways: Philip Jones, Chairman, Phillip Jones Associates.
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