Substance over style

Given the tragic fire that occurred at a block of flats in north Kensington in June, and the concerns about the type of cladding used on the exterior of the building, we might find that householders’ taste for exterior cladding will diminish. Here at the Blog we certainly hope so, if an appeal case in northeast London (DCS Number 400-016-628) is a representative example of what is currently being put forward for planning permission. Quite apart from the safety considerations, which must now demand the closest scrutiny, the inspector describes a proposal which sounds architecturally ghastly.

The appeal related to a traditional two-storey brick terraced house which had been converted into two flats. The building had two-storey projecting polygonal bay windows with contrasting brickwork, decorative architectural moulding around the bay windows and the original porch detail above the front door. The proposal involved expanded polystyrene external wall insulation being installed on both the front and rear elevations. This insulation would then be covered in a silicon render of an off-white colour. Together, they would have a depth of approximately 90mm. The inspector considered that the insulation and render would result in an incongruous and unsympathetic addition to the property, and when viewed in the context of its traditional terraced surroundings, the protruding wall insulation and render would detract from the streetscene. The appellant argued that the detailing around the bay windows and front door could be replicated so that the existing architectural features would be retained in a similar form. The inspector reasoned that even if the architectural features could be replicated, given the increased depth of the property with the external wall insulation and silicon render, the replica detailing would also project forward of the matching architectural detailing on the adjoining properties. This would emphasise the incompatible nature of the proposed development with its neighbours. Unsurprisingly, the inspector concluded that the proposal would not respect the character and appearance of the appeal property and the streetscene.

The following DCP section is relevant: 12.416