Design matters

After a few quiet weeks the Planning Inspectorate appears to be getting back into its stride following the publication of the revised NPPF. So, dear readers, here on the DCP Blog we are keeping a watchful eye for appeal cases where new policy has had an impact.

A case in point is (DCS Number 400-019-479) which involves a reserved matters application for seven houses in Surrey. In this case the inspector made it clear that good quality design is a must.

The revised Framework, the inspector noted, “is a material consideration that states in Paragraph 130 that local planning authorities should seek to ensure that the quality of approved development is not materially diminished between permission and completion.” He recorded that the outline scheme was accompanied by indicative drawings presented in some detail. These demonstrated that a scheme could be conceived that would include high levels of soft landscaping and attractive, well detailed and appropriately proportioned homes. The houses in the indicative scheme included decorative porches, balanced composition, interesting fenestration, chimneys, gables and enclosed softening front gardens. He considered that such a development would have the ability to enhance the site and the edge of the settlement more generally and was justly approved by the council.

However….the inspector remarked that the indicative scheme had not been followed through into the reserved matters. He accepted that there was no requirement for it to do so. Nevertheless, he found it entirely unclear why the apparently positive scheme presented at the outline stage had been significantly ‘watered down’. The poor quality of the appeal scheme, he ruled, was to be considered in this context as well as the Framework’s guidance that permission should be refused for poor design that fails to take opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area.

In addition, the inspector noted that the Framework states in Paragraph 128 that applicants should work closely with those affected by their proposals to evolve designs that take account of the views of the community. Given the level of objection to the scheme, it seemed to him that the reverse had occurred. Dismissing the appeal, he concluded that the scheme would harm the character and appearance of the area.

Section 4.13 of DCP Online discusses the scope of development control to influence the layout and design of new development.