Planning inspector backs Cheshire councillors' decision to block Malpas building plans

Published date: 13 July 2017 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A DECISION by councillors to refuse plans for retirement living against the advice of their officials has been backed by a planning inspector.

The appeal arose at The Cedars in Old Hall Street, Malpas, where McCarthy & Stone Retirement Lifestyles proposed to demolish the vacant and dilapidated property and its outbuildings to provide 12 one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom flats in a two-storey building.

Planning officers at Cheshire West and Chester Council recommended approval but a majority of councillors on the planning committee felt the new build would be overdevelopment and out of keeping with the character of the surrounding area.

Voting 6-4 to reject the plans, they also believed parking was inadequate.

McCarthy & Stone appealed against the decision to the government’s planning inspectorate.

Inspector Elaine Worthington suggested the main issue was the effect of the new build on the character and appearance of the surrounding area, including its impact on the significance of the Malpas Conservation Area which she described as a designated heritage asset.

She argued the mainly open and undeveloped garden land site, along with the other open land surrounding the village, contributed to the rural setting of Malpas and played a role in defining the character of the area.

The accommodation would be managed and self-contained and was intended for owner-occupiers aged more than 60 years old.

The proposed two-storey building had been designed with a rural approach in mind to resemble a farmhouse at the front of the site on Old Hall Street with agricultural barns and outbuildings to the rear.

It would be set back from the main road and screened by the existing mature frontage trees which would be retained.

That said, the inspector pointed out it would be of a ‘substantial size’ and would bring development close to the boundaries of the site, leaving only limited space around the building.

At 60 homes per hectare, the proposal would be of a density significantly higher than that of the surrounding area.

She was concerned the application involved what would essentially be a large and continuous single block of two-storey development which would be much bigger and more densely developed than any existing buildings in the area – and out of step with the pattern of other development nearby.

The land was on the edge of Malpas and was recognised in the neighbourhood plan for its rural feel. The application introduced development much closer to the countryside on a significantly larger scale than currently existed and led to the loss of open land.

 “To my mind, it would be appreciated as a considerable intrusion of built development,” said the inspector. 

This would be so despite views to the open countryside being retained.

She was aware outline planning permission for a residential development of up to six homes had been approved in 2015 but that would not be as substantial as the current application.

  • See full story in the Whitchurch Herald

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