Hot under the collar

The owner of a shisha and dessert lounge in Coventry might be feeling a bit hot under the collar after an inspector refused to sanction the retention of two artificial palm trees at the front of the building, despite the effects of climate change (DCS Number 400-025-155).

The inspector observed that the palm trees were some six metres in height and stood either side of the modern two-storey building. The building was located within a conservation area, to the rear of a grade II listed sixteenth century building which was constructed with a timber frame and plaster infilling.

The inspector considered that, despite the proximity and dominance of an IKEA store in many local views, the palm trees had an incongruous air in the street scene. Close up, the trees appeared even more out of place, where their height and the glass reinforced plastic and steel trunk and fixing bolts became more evident and the artificial nature of the trees revealed itself. He found that this artificial nature was clearly evident from closer views and hence the trees did not soften the built form behind them, more added to the amount of built form in the area, and appeared discordant within the street scene and in conjunction with the actual trees set in the pavement in front of them.

The appellant referred to a council consultation on trees and development. The inspector pointed out, however, that this did not appear to refer to artificial trees; moreover, he considered that the palm trees did not contribute to the conservation or enhancement of the landscape, provide an overall environmental benefit or soften the outline of the building behind them. Whether or not palm trees gain more of a foothold in the UK due to climate change, he commented, the trees in the case before him were artificial.

The inspector concluded that the proposal would result in harm being caused to the setting and the significance of the listed building and to the character and appearance of the conservation area.

Further information concerning the setting of listed buildings can be found at section 4.1681 of DCP Online and section 4.24 covers conservation areas.