Hughes Hall

Full planning application for a two-storey bar and multi-purpose function rooms.

Cambridge City Council had refused the application on the grounds that the proposal “is not in context and fails to recognise the constraints of the site or relate well to its surroundings”, which include an eastern elevation that presents “a predominantly blank, hard and unsympathetic form to the east, turning its back on the neighbours in Covent Garden” and a design that “is not in harmony with the existing building, and would adversely affect the setting of Hughes Hall, a Grade II listed building” and Conservation Area.

Design at appeal

The inspector found that the proposal would not be detrimental to the Conservation Area as “the site is at the back of the Hall and is not visible from the public realm” and therefore the visual impact would be limited to the surrounding area. The height and scale of the proposal was found not to dominate Hughes Hall, reinforcing the proposal as an extension to the listed building.

The materials and renderings of the proposals, red bricks and steel roofing materials, are similar to those of the main building. The inspector concluded that “the proposed building would not be harmful to the setting of the nearby listed building.”

The inspector determined that the proposed landscaping and the retention of mature trees would effectively screen and break up the outline of the proposed building, minimising the impact at the listed building and on the conservation area.

The inspector concluded that the scheme’s “inconspicuous and self contained position would preserve the character and appearance of the Conservation Area and accord with the requirements” in the local plan. The inspector allowed the appeal and granted planning approval.

The appeal was allowed

Key lessons

  • Building in context gives guidance on the subject of designing new buildings in historical context.
  • The preservation of conservation area and listed buildings should not stifle innovation in architecture.
  • Design at appeal provides guidance for local authorities and appellants to navigate the appeal process when design is an issue.

Further information

  • Appeal decision date:
    13 February 2007
  • Local authority:
    Cambridge City Council
  • Region:
  • Type of application:
    Full Planning
  • LPA planning reference Number:
  • Planning Inspectorate appeal reference: