Local residents have been fighting to stop a new ‘out of keeping’ care home being built in Outwood Lane, Horsforth, on the site of the former St Joseph’s Convalescent Home. The area is a conservation area, and the proposed building was a bulky four storeys that would have dominated the area, and nearby terraced homes.
Leeds City Council turned down planning permission, however the developers objected, and the appeal was heard by an inspector in May this year. The result of that appeal has just been released (26th June) and the appeal has been dismissed.
The inspector decided that the design of the new building neither preserved or enhanced the Horsforth Cragg Hill and Woodside Conservation area, in fact he went so far as to say it would have a significant harmful effect. The main feature of the site was Victorian villas and terraces of stone, with trees and green spaces. Although a new building did not have to have an historic design, it did have to be in keeping; the proposal wasn’t.
To ensure a modern design enhanced the area it needs to have adequate space around it, and be integrated into the conservation area. The inspector spelled out that the revised National Planning Policy Framework places a particular emphasis on good design and the importance of conserving heritage assets – and that the design put to him did none of these things. Neither did he see that the public benefits brought by the care home outweighed the harm of the building to the local area – as there was no reason why a more desireable building should not be designed for the site.
The developer had appealed on the grounds that there was mixed development in the conservation area, that not all buildings were Victorian and domestic, and that the bulky building only occupied 38% of the site. They also pointed out the the development was sustainable, and thus there should be a presumption in favour of it. The Inspector countered, that the definition of sustainability was not narrow and that “paragraph 9 of the NPPF indicates that sustainable development involves seeking positive improvements inthe quality of the built, natural and historic environment. Consequently, I do not consider that the Framework establishes any presumption in favour of development that applies in this case, in view of the significant harm I have found”.
A local campaigner said – “Result !”