Sadly, the decision by The Planning Inspectorate to give the go-ahead for this tower is no great surprise. The documentation with this decision is long and detailed. These are some of the key points about the Inspector’s decison:
‘The Council’s acceptance that it cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.’ The Council appears not to have proper records to prove it does not need this site to meet its housing targets.
The area around the site is largely non-residential.
There are already ‘buildings of significant size in the immediate area’ – Waitrose, Luminoscity, Sinclair House, Dominion House and the new station.
The proposed site itself is single -storey buildings of poor quality and under-used.
The starting point to assess the proposed tall building is ‘whether the site is worthy of the gesture. A spine of taller development is evolving along the path of the railway.’ This proposal would be seen as another part of that spine. So the site is worthy of the gesture.
The proposed building (not as high as that originally proposed) would not appear as an alien insertion into the townscape. It would be an indicator of the transition from buildings of lower size and height to the more intensive uses and buildings of greater height around the node or hub formed by the meeting of the roads, their crossing of the railway and the station.
The design, as long as the materials are of high quality, will be an exemplary piece of design that will make a positive contribution to the area.
The proposed building is well outside the conservation area and we should not equate visibility and harm.
The Council is delivering at best 40% of its objectively assessed need for affordable housing. The provision of these 144 units would be all be affordable homes.
There is no unacceptable impact on the living conditions of existing residents through loss of sunlight, loss of daylight, visual impact, overshadowing, overlooking and loss of privacy.
No Blue Badge parking will not be a deterrent given it is next to the step-free access station and the developer will give £10,000 to the Council to provide Blue Badge parking nearby.