The Planning Inspector making a site visit as part of her inquiry. L to R: Kenneth Burns, Alex Childs, McCarthy and Stone; Katie Child, the Planning Inspector who rejected the planning application; Sarah Collins, senior planning officer, Brighton and Hove Council

14 August 2017 - Planning Inspectorate turns down McCarthy and Stone application

The Inquiry was conducted by Planning Inspector Katie Child, seen here listening to a member of the public on day 1 of the Inquiry

On the 14 August 2017 the Planning Inspectorate published their decision to refuse planning permission for McCarthy and Stone's development in Old London Road because of its impact on the character of appearance of the street. Thank you to everyone who sent letters of objection and who attended the public inquiry. Our voices have been heard. That is now the end of the matter unless McCarthy and Stone decide to put in a new planning application. Read the full decision here: https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/ViewCase.aspx?caseid=3163517 . See the reaction of local people on our page 'What Patcham Said'

News coverage: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2017/08/14/plans-to-build-retirement-home-complex-in-brighton-rejected-by-government-inspector/

http://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/politics/victory-for-campaigners-as-appeal-for-patcham-homes-is-dismissed-1-8104376

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/15476219.Three_storey_housing_block_plan_is_rejected/

Page 24 of the September 2017 issue of The Post magazine 'Old London Road is saved by Planning Inspectorate' http://thepostmagazine.co.uk/

Background

Nearly 18 months since McCarthy and Stone first publicly announced their plans to demolish 5 family homes in the Old London Road and replace them with a 3 storey block of retirement flats, the Planning Inspectorate have published their decision to refuse planning permission because of its impact on the character of appearance of the area.

(The developer has since featured in Money Box on Radio 4 in a programme first broadcast on 9 September 2017. The programme visited a McCarthy and Stone development in Yorkshire where over half the flats have been sold at a loss compared to the purchase price, for example a flat bought for £166,000 was re-sold for £70,000, and another flat bought for £140,000 was re-sold for £58,000. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09309h5)

The impact on the character and appearance of the Old London Road was one of the main objections raised by the 350 people who sent in letters of objection, our local councillors, Geoffrey Theobald and Lee Wares, and was one of the main grounds for the Council turning down the planning application. The Inspector did not, however, accept the objections in relation to the flood risk. Here are some extracts from the decision:

Negative impact on character and appearance of the area

The Inspector comments: 'I consider that the proposed building would, by virtue of a combination of its scale, density, massing and width, be a dominant and over-bearing 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.'

Flood risk and drainage mitigations acceptable

The Inspector comments: 'I consider that the scheme would have a negligible effect on overall groundwater levels, and that 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.'

Summary 

The inspector concludes: '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. As established above, 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.' 

What happens next

That is now the end of the road for this planning application. Any developer who wants to develop the site will need to put in a brand new planning application to the Council which they consider addresses the objections from both the Council and the Planning Inspectorate. This application would then be subject to further public consultation.

What happened at the Planning Inquiry?

 

Day 1 of the Planning Inquiry, Tuesday 13 June 2017 (10 am to 5pm) - There was standing room only in the Council Chamber  as Patcham turned out in force to make clear their opposition to McCarthy and Stone's plans for Old London Road, with more than 80 residents in attendance. The Inquiry was conducted by the Planning Inspector, Katie Child. McCarthy and Stone's barrister, Robert Walton, led their team making the case for their development to go ahead. Hilary Woodward, The Council's senior planning solicitor, defended the Council's decision to reject the planningapplication. Today the focus was on the flood risk, and the Council's flood risk officer, Maggie Moran, and the developer's expert witness, Paul Jenkin, both gave their evidence. The Council's head of adult social care, Kim Philpott, then spoke about the stress and anxiety caused to local residents when floods were threatened in 2014. It was then the turn of members of the public to start giving their views on the development, and three residents from the Old London Road gave their comments.

 

Read about the opening statements of the Council and the developer: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2017/06/13/objectors-pack-planning-appeal-in-brighton-to-oppose-retirement-home-plan-in-flood-prone-street/

 

Day 2 of the Planning Inquiry, Wednesday 14th June 2017 (10 am to 6.15 pm):

 

In the morning, over 20 residents gave their views on the development which covered many objections, and ranged from the very technical, factual to the emotional reflecting the passion people feel about this development. Councillor Geoffrey Theobald spoke with great force against the proposals and provided evidence of flooding on the proposed site.

 

Expert witnesses (Kenneth Burns and Alex Childs for McCarthy and Stone and Sarah Collins for the Council) presented evidence on the acceptability of the appearance of the development and were questioned by members of the public.

 

Read more about the views of some of the residents: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2017/06/14/55061/

Day 3 

The Inquiry by the Planning Inspector ended on 15 June 2017 with a visit to the site at lunchtime. This followed discussions about how much the developer pays in financial contributions (a total of £66,000) and the planning conditions in the event that the development goes ahead. There were then closing statements by the Council and developer. The Inspector has gone away to consider the issues and has said she expects to publish her decision on or before 17 August 2017. 

http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2017/06/15/battle-to-stop-flood-zone-retirement-flats-ends-for-now/#comment-163410

See article about the Planning Inquiry ('Old London Road - the final decision') in the July 2017 issue of Patcham Post, page 34: http://thepostmagazine.co.uk/