PLANS to build a six-storey block of flats on the old ice rink site in Queen Square have been thrown out by a government planning inspector.
Developers Stonehurst Estates wanted to build a block of 31 flats on the site with offices and other commercial uses on the ground floor. The council’s planning committee narrowly rejected this proposal in October last year, but the developers appealed..
The MCHA has consistently objected to a six-storey building on this because of the damaging impact it would have on both the conservation area and the listed buildings Wykeham Terrace, the churchyard of St Nicholas and the church itself.
Now David Prentis, a government planning inspector, has thrown out the appeal on precisely these grounds. His report was published last week. “In my view,” says the inspector, the height, scale and horizontal emphasis of the proposed building, combined with its proximity to the site boundary, would result in a very dominant presence on the edge of the churchyard…This would have a harmful effect on the relatively open nature of the churchyard, detracting from the quality of the green space and the contribution it makes to the character and appearance of the conservation area. Given that the churchyard forms a key element of the setting of the Church, it follows that the setting of the Church would not be preserved.”
He also heavily criticises the impact on Wykeham Terrace. “The height of the new building would be well above that of the terrace and it would be in relatively close proximity. I consider that the new building would dominate the skyline in such views, competing with and distracting from the dramatic roofline of the terrace. This would be harmful to the setting of the listed terrace.”
He also condemns the impact that a six-storey building would have on Wykeham Terrace. “On the second main issue, I conclude that the proposal would be harmful to the living conditions of nearby residents at Wykeham Terrace, in that it would cause an unduly overbearing and enclosing effect, and at No 10 Queen Square where there would be a loss of privacy.”
“In conclusion,” says the inspector, “the proposal would be harmful to the significance of the listed church, the listed terrace and the conservation area.”