Yesterday morning the Inspector heard a thorough probing of the scale and massing of PegasusLife proposals for Knowle..major elements in EDDC’s refusal of the plans almost exactly one year ago (6 December, 2016), and apparently a common factor for refusal of the same developer’s plans in other locations*.
In the afternoon, there was careful consideration of the “special regard” that should be given to preservation of the summerhouse and its setting, a legal requirement for this Grade 2 listed building . For EDDC, Ned Westaway pointed out that the sense of relationship of the summerhouse with the house and its terraces, had remained intact throughout its history. He emphasised the importance of its heritage value as the built structure that was “the clearest link back” to the flamboyant collector and connoisseur Thomas Leveridge Fish, who owned the house and gardens in their Victorian heyday.Under cross-examination, the Heritage expert agreed it was, as it were, “an original Fish”! Mr Westaway argued that the space around the summerhouse has always been and remains an essential part of its setting, and that only glimpses (not views as claimed by the developer) would be seen from the proposed Orangery, as a huge yew tree is in the way. The interpretation board PegasusLife offers does not mitigate any possible harm resulting from the plans to building on the terraces close to the summerhouse, he said. At this point, Edward Dolphin informed the Inspector that Sidmouth Arboretum already have plans underway to provide an information and interpretation board themselves, and there is £15,000 set aside for this.
Regarding the existing main building (the former hotel), the Inquiry was told by the PegasusLife ‘Heritage’ witness that it was of “considerable” local heritage interest, and “could be restored into a building not marred by inappropriate alteration”; be “de-cluttered” and “retained for future generations, as fits the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)”. He was reminded, under cross-examination by Mr Westaway, that Building B was in fact to be retained not due to its flint stone wall of some Heritage value, but because of its large colony of bats.
The last hour of Thursday’s session was dedicated to consideration of whether the PegasusLife ‘special care complex’ proposals should be properly categorised as C2 or C3..still a controversial, fine-line distinction. It finished with an announcement by Simon Bird, QC, for PegasusLife, that an S106 agreement had just been signed.
The Inquiry continues today, from 9.30a.m.
*Recent examples of refusal for PegasusLife planning applications:
Chigwell (4th Oct 2017) Application for five blocks totalling 105 apartments turned down: too big and not enough affordable housing.
Other examples believed to be:
Bath (assisted living): refused: “excessive and incongruous height”, “harmful impact upon surrounding heritage assets”, “nearby listed buildings undermined”, “the excessive tall building fails to respect its context”, “harmful impact on character and appearance of surrounding conservation area”.
Bristol (Nuffield Hospital site) – officers can’t support due to “excessive bulk and massing”, “doesn’t relate to surrounding context”, would “dominate the townscape”.
Wilmslow: refused: “too large, too high, no affordables”.
Harpenden (retirement flats) – refused due to “height (20.7 metres)”, “lack of privacy for neighbours”, “footprint 28 degrees greater than existing buildings”, “visually intrusive”, “residents’ parking would spill onto neighbouring roads”.