A scheme to build 44 retirement flats in Patcham has been rejected by a government planning inspector to the delight of neighbours.
McCarthy and Stone and its subsidiary business YourLife Management Services want to demolish five two-storey houses and build a three-storey complex in Old London Road.
The company submitted a planning application to Brighton and Hove City Council and then appealed, saying that the council had not decided the application within the statutory time limit.
Planning inspector Katie Child said that there were two key issues to be decided from the planning appeal held at Brighton Town Hall in June when dozens of residents turned out and several gave evidence.
She said that the key issues were the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the area and whether it would be acceptable in terms of flood risk and drainage.
She said: “The proposed building would, by virtue of a combination of its scale, density, massing and width, be a dominant and overbearing feature that would detract from the attractive suburban character of this part of Old London Road.
“The proposed frontage roof profile would be incongruous in appearance and fail to respect local character and, notwithstanding its varied profile, overall would contribute to the prominence of the building.
“I consider that the proposed development would cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the area.
“The scheme would have a negligible effect on overall groundwater levels and the effects on groundwater flows are unlikely to be significant.
“The scheme proposes a suitable surface water drainage scheme and a range of design and operational mitigation measures that seek to deal with residual risks.
“Furthermore, although I note the age and potential vulnerability of the proposed occupiers, there is no substantive evidence that the site is inherently unsuitable for the profile and number of proposed occupants.
“In summary, I recognise that there are number of benefits arising from the proposed scheme and that these need to be weighed against any harm arising.
“Although I am satisfied that the scheme would be acceptable in terms of flood risk and drainage, it would cause significant harm by virtue of its impact on the character and appearance of the area.
“Overall, having carefully considered all of the evidence before me, I consider that the aforementioned benefits of the scheme, taken as a whole, do not outweigh the significant harm that I have identified in this case.”
One neighbour and campaigner against the scheme Alistair Elliott said: “This is great news for the 350 people who sent in letters of objection and the many local people who attended the public inquiry. Thank you to everyone who made a representation.
“Today’s decision brings to an end nearly 18 months of uncertainty for local residents.
“It is fantastic that the Patcham we know and love has been saved by this decision. We all moved to Patcham attracted by its special character and community atmosphere.
“I have learnt first hand over the past 18 months how strong that community spirit is and how deeply people love and care about Patcham, sometimes to the point of tears.
“It has been very humbling for those of us living next door to the development that people living further afield in Patcham and beyond cared enough to write and object and to come to the public inquiry.
“I did not have to persuade anyone to object to the plans – people were angry enough to object off their own bats. All I did was remind people of the address and the deadlines.”
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