May 29, 2017
The owners of Somerset House, Messrs Calver, Cook, Fenton & Dixon, have lost their Appeal and planning permission to demolish the offices on this site and replace them with 5 flats and 3 townhouses has been refused by the Inspector.
CHIS has always opposed their plans, considering them to be an overdevelopment of the site and totally unacceptable on design and heritage grounds.
BCC had taken the unusual decision not to defend the Appeal, for financial reasons, leaving residents to fight alone. The matter has been dealt with for CHIS by our joint planning co-ordinator, Christopher Jefferies and we were fortunate to have been expertly advised and represented at the Hearing by local architect, Michael Woodman-Smith, acting on a pro bono basis. Our other planning co-ordinator, Linda Edwards, being personally affected by the plans, spoke on behalf of residents of Canynge Square and Canynge Rd. The developers were represented by three planning consultants and an arboriculturalist.
Somewhat surprisingly, and despite cogent arguments put forward by both CHIS and neighbours, the Inspector considered that that the proposed development would preserve the character and appearance of the Conservation Area; a finding with which CHIS strongly disagrees. However, he concluded that this was demonstrably outweighed by the harm which would be caused to the living conditions of the occupiers of neighbouring properties. This was principally the overbearing impact the proposed houses would have on properties at 1-6 Canynge Square, causing a reduction in sunlight, daylight and outlook. The full Appeal Decision can be found on the BCC website.
It is hoped that, if a further planning application is submitted, the owners will consult with residents, take their views into account and respect the character and appearance of the conservation area generally and, in particular, the listed buildings and other buildings of merit which surround this site.