Methuen Park

Full planning application for a hotel.

North Wiltshire District Council had refused the application as the proposed building by virtue of scale and design failed to take advantage of “an important and highly visible gateway location when entering Chippenham from the South and West.”

Design at appeal

The inspector dismissed the appeal, supporting the council’s view that the design was uninspiring and the scheme failed to exploit the opportunity to create an articulated landmark at this prominent junction.

The inspector also agreed that it is a prominent site adjacent to the main road into the historical town centre of Chippenham and acknowledged that “the locality has no particularly strong unifying character, suggesting that a variety of building styles and forms may be acceptable, provided they are well designed.” Despite this, the inspector had reservations about the design approach adopted and overall considered that “such a height calls for an especially well designed structure if it is to be a positive rather than a negative landmark.”

The inspector was also not convinced by the landscape treatment stating that the lawn between the hotel and the main road appeared to be an afterthought and was unlikely to be effective. The inspector stated “this is a large building that had been squeezed onto the available site with little apparent thought to its context…In my view this is a layout and form of a development that is far from appropriate for an important ‘gateway’ site.”

The inspector found the building design to be mundane and uninspiring, stating that: “it is a bland and undistinguished structure that the addition of oriel windows at one end fails to lift out the ordinary.” The inspector concluded that “the proposed development is not of a high quality that relates satisfactorily to its context and that it would therefore detract from the views of those approaching or passing Chippenham along the nearby busy roads, to the detriment of the character and appearance of the area.”

The appeal was dismissed

Key lessons

  • a proposal that does not improve and enhance the character and quality of an area and the way it functions should not be accepted (PPS1: Delivering sustainable development)
  • facade treatment and a buildings relationship with the street and its surrounds is an important consideration.
  • landscape treatment in a scheme is integral to the quality of a scheme.
  • By Design: urban design in the planning system and other guidance, such as Guidance on tall buildings are material considerations in planning decisions. An opportunity has been missed to improve and enhance the status of a major gateway into the market town. High quality design should be part of the scheme to signal a landmark and improve the legibility of this major junction.
  • 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:
    04 April 2007
  • Local authority:
    North Wiltshire District Council
  • Region:
    South West
  • Type of application:
    Full Planning
  • LPA planning reference:
  • Planning Inspectorate appeal reference:
    APP/J3910/A/07/2033817 (Adobe PDF)