Retirement apartments scheme is rejected by planning inspector

Plans for a four-storey high development of retirement flats have been thrown out at appeal.

Kerry Ashdown www.stokesentinel.co.uk

Permission had previously been granted for 26 apartments in two blocks on the site at the corner of Stone Road and Cooperative Street in Stafford.

But Stafford Borough Council refused permission for a revised application that sought consent for 30 owner-occupied retired living flats. It followed concerns that the development would be overbearing to surrounding homes.

Now an appeal against the council’s decision has been dismissed by planning inspector Helen Hockenhull.

In her decision notice, she said: “The appeal proposal seeks to construct an additional four apartments by adding a third floor and roof garden to both blocks. The additional floor would be set back on the roof and feature railings would be provided around the roof gardens matching that of the balconies to the individual apartments below.

“The appellant has stated that the 26 approved apartments are not financially viable and the further four apartments proposed in the appeal scheme are required to assist overall scheme viability.

“No substantial evidence has been provided, however, such as a viability appraisal, to confirm and demonstrate this position. I am therefore unable to give this matter any weight in my decision.

“The appeal scheme, a four-storey development, would be out of character with the predominantly two-storey residential properties in the vicinity of the site. A development of this scale and height would form a visually dominant addition to the street scene, causing harm to the character and appearance of the area.

“The appellant has advised that the original property on the site was, in effect, four-storey, with three floors and a basement. However, the existing building had a smaller footprint and was centrally located within the site.

“The appeal proposal is not only higher by approximately 900 mm, but has a greater visual impact as it extends closer to the site frontages following the building line of properties on Cooperative Street.

“I acknowledge that there are four-storey buildings near to the appeal site. However, these are set back from Stone Road and form the backdrop to two-storey development fronting Stone Road and Cooperative Street. They do not therefore have the same visual impact and prominence in the locality.”

Stafford Borough Council’s planning committee considered the appeal decision at its meeting on Wednesday (March 17).

Councillor Bryan Cross said: “This was on the corner, just next to the railway bridge, where there was quite a substantial house which has been knocked down. They’ve flattened the house and there is just a pile of rubble there and the site is surrounded by a high wooden fence.

“It’ll be interesting to see how it progresses from there. Had it been built, it certainly would have overshadowed the houses opposite in Cooperative Street.”

Councillor Jack Kemp said: “There was some history attached to two of those villas. One of them was for a councillor Anderson and the other one was for Mr Hollins, who started from Railway Cottages and became a very important person in the town.

“They were really well-built, they had a lot of character. It was a shame it was knocked down, because I don’t think anybody thought that was going to happen.”