Bungaloid and bland

In denying planning permission for a new bungalow in the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site, an inspector made it clear that he was unimpressed with the lack of regard for the historic setting shown by the proposals (DCS Number 400-024-038).

The inspector observed that the land seemed likely to have accommodated the railway tracks serving the adjacent Grade II* listed former tileworks. He considered that this Neo-Gothic building set the architectural tone for the area, with the more low-key adjacent school picking up the Gothic theme, repeated with greater force in the not too distant church. Collectively, he held, these institutions invested the conservation area with the strong and distinct character of a community at the heart of a once thriving industrial area.

The inspector remarked that the front elevation of the proposed dwelling was essentially bungaloid in form and appearance, judging that in spatial terms the proposals would manifestly encroach on the open area of the historic rail corridor thus materially diminishing the open context to the former tile factory and school. More specifically in design terms, he held that the proposals offered no attribute of form, detail or deployment of materials that acknowledged or attempted to address the acute sensitivity of the site’s context. Instead, “they offer a bland suburban design formula that can more readily be attributed to anywhere.” He acknowledged that whilst there was residential development, some of it modern, within the settlement that might not achieve the highest standards of design, none of the examples he saw, in the context of such highly graded designated assets, demonstrated the same lack of visual empathy expressed by the appeal proposals.

Further information concerning world heritage sites can be found at section 4.246 of DCP Online.