Through the looking-glass

Looking at a development proposal through the prism of an appellant’s reasoning can often be enlightening, sometimes entertaining, and sometimes even alarming. See what you make of the following appeal case which concerned the redevelopment of a commercial garage in central London with a block of 23 flats (DCS Number 200-008-756).

The appellant accepted, the inspector recorded, that the development would inevitably have an effect on the flats in the neighbouring mansion block, although “it is suggested that these existing flats can be considered a “bad neighbour” in that they receive more than their fair share of daylight due to the lesser level of development on the adjoining site.” The appellant also argued that based on a “mirror image” assessment, replicating the height and massing of the existing flats, the overall effect would be similar to other dwellings within blocks to the south of the appeal site and elsewhere in the street. The inspector considered, nevertheless, that the resulting reduction in daylight to the affected flats would be both very noticeable and harmful.

The inspector held that, whilst the use of alternative targets derived from a mirror image assessment was a potential approach, historically, development on the appeal site had been either lower, or further away from the windows of the flats in the mansion block facing it or adjacent to the boundary. He did not consider that there were compelling grounds to consider that the existing flats in the mansion block were a bad neighbour for the purposes of assessing the effect on daylight, or that the transgressions against BRE guidance could be considered minor.

We have to say that we are rather relieved, here on the DCP Blog, that the inspector took this view. The appellant’s argument is one that, if accepted, apart from giving rise to all sorts of practical problems in respect of measurement, would only tend to drag the quality of development downwards.

Section 7.433 of DCP Online concerns layout, design and amenity matters in respect of flat block developments.