Planning inspectors decision on Londis Mill Road Appeal Decision Site visit made on 23 February 2015 by M Seaton BSc (Hons) DipTP MRTPI an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Decision date: 2 March 2015 Appeal Ref: APP/Q0505/A/14/2228832 218/220 Mill Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB1 3NF • The appeal is made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against a refusal to grant planning permission. • The appeal is made by Mr Gurmail Singh Pabla (Londis) against the decision of Cambridge City Council. • The application Ref 14/1077/FUL, dated 1 July 2014, was refused by notice dated 15 September 2014. •

The development proposed is the rendering of an external wall and painting a soft stone colour. Decision

1. The appeal is dismissed. Procedural Matter

2. At the time of my site visit the rendering and painting had already been undertaken, which is reflected in the Council’s description of the development as being retrospective on the decision notice. I have therefore also assessed the appeal on this basis. Main Issue

3. The main issue is whether the development preserves or enhances the character or appearance of the Central Conservation Area. Reasons

4. The appeal premises are formed of a 2-storey corner building at the junction between Mill Road and Hope Street, and comprise a ground floor shop with first floor living accommodation above.

The appeal site is located within the Mill Road East District Centre where I observed there to be a distinct variety in the character and quality of appearance of other commercial and retail units, as well as residential units, both in respect of detailed design and use of materials. 5. The Council has referred to the Mill Road Area Conservation Area Appraisal (the CA Appraisal) in its submissions, but I have not been provided with a copy or any extracts of relevant sections. Nevertheless, the Council has indicated in summary that residential properties are regarded as having been generally well preserved, but are threatened by the use of modern materials and details, as well as the painting of brickwork. From my observations on site, I would agree with this assessment.

I would also add that a prevailing characteristic of the Appeal Decision APP/Q0505/A/14/2228832 2 residential streets in particular, remains the use of traditional exposed brickwork, rather than paint or render.

6. In this instance, a painted render has been applied to both the front and side elevations of the appeal premises. Given the design and extent of coverage of the front elevation on to Mill Road, and being mindful of the greater variety in appearance of commercial and retail units on this part of Mill Road, the works on this elevation do not cause any significant visual harm within the context of the district centre. However, the painted rendering of the side elevation of the premises facing Hope Street is read principally in the context of the existing residential character of the street, where the majority of the terraced dwellings are constructed from traditional brickwork. Furthermore, the painted render covers an extensive two-storey and single-storey area of the side elevation of the appeal premises, which extends a significant distance back from the junction. In this respect, whilst I have noted the apparent contradictions within the Council’s Statement regarding the level of impact on the conservation area, I consider the overall coverage of the painted render results in an obtrusive and visually harmful feature within both the street and the conservation area.

7. The appellant indicates that the use of an appropriate render was advised due to the poor condition of the existing brickwork. However, no compelling evidence has been placed before me regarding the previous condition of the building, or that the use of render was the only possible solution. In the absence of any further supporting evidence, I have therefore attached only very limited weight to this contention in my decision-making.

8. The appellant has also identified there to be various other buildings within the conservation area which have been rendered, including the side elevation of the Co-operative store on Catharine Street opposite the appeal site. The appellant has also contended that the works would have been undertaken to many of these buildings prior to the designation of the conservation area. However, whilst this may be the case, the fact that these buildings were included within the designation of the conservation area does not automatically convey them as being a positive or desirable characteristic within the conservation area. For the reasons I have already given, I do not consider that the existence of other rendered buildings within the conservation area alters my conclusion in this respect.

9. I conclude that the use of painted render fails to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Central Conservation Area. The development conflicts with saved Policies 3/4 and 4/11 of the Cambridge City Council Local Plan 2006, which seek to ensure that development identifies and responds positively to existing features of historic character on and close to the development site, and that development within conservation areas preserves or enhances the character or appearance of the conservation area by reflecting its context or providing a successful contrast. The harm identified would amount to “less than substantial harm” which the National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework) advises must be weighed against the public benefits of the scheme. In this respect, no public benefits resulting from the rendering have been cited which would outweigh the harm that the rendering causes to the Central Conservation Area. I therefore conclude that the development also fails to comply with national policy as outlined in the Framework. Appeal Decision APP/Q0505/A/14/2228832 3 Other Matter

10. I have considered the appellant’s suggestion that the scheme could be altered to include painting “the framing” of existing openings in a suitable different tone to the colour of the render, which it is contended would respond to the Victorian characteristics of buildings within the conservation area. However, I do not consider that this would amount to appropriate mitigation for the harm caused by the appeal scheme. Conclusion

11. For the reasons given above, the appeal is dismissed.


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