Middle Street

Full planning application for 84 flats, two offices/light industrial units in a 12-storey building.

Portsmouth City Council had refused this scheme citing that it would œamount to an excessive dominant feature detrimental to the appearance and character of the area by virtue of its detailed design, external finishes and scale.

Design at appeal

The inspector stated that:

œPolicy DC1 of the Portsmouth City Local Plan first Review 2001-2011 (LP) emphasises the importance of good design, following the lead of PPS1 and By Design. The LP policy requires development to respect the urban grain of the area, and the scale, massing, height and bulk of adjacent and surrounding buildings, and materials, detailing and fenestration.

The inspector agreed with the local planning authority that the proposal would be out of character with the pattern of development of the area.

The inspector referenced section 5 of By Design, which emphasises that spaces between buildings should relate to their scale and height, and observes that the street layout, plot sizes and arrangement of buildings in the surrounding area, despite the existing heights and density, is relatively open, providing space and a degree of separation between buildings.

The inspector reasoned that this proposal does not follow this pattern, with the proposed buildings having a large footprint and the site completely developed, leaving a œcramped and claustrophobic effect, out of character with the pattern of the development in the area, which would be seen widely in close and longer distance views from a number of viewpoints.

The inspector stated that:

œThe proposed building would be clad in a mixture of three different materials which, although individually found on other buildings in the area, when combined in the proposed development in a somewhat patchy manner would produce a fussy effect. The effect would be emphasised by the use of a variety of relatively small windows of domestic style, out of proportion and incongruous when used at the scale of a large block of flats¦I find therefore that the development would be out of keeping with the appearance of the area¦The use of materials could be subject to condition, but I consider that the excessive height of the building together with the detailed design, would be harmful to the character and appearance of the area and would conflict in that regard with Policy DC1 and with national guidance.

The inspector concluded that overall this proposed 12-storey building would respond poorly to its wider setting in terms of scale and outlook and would have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the area.

The appeal was dismissed

Key lessons

  • By Design: urban design in the planning system is a material consideration in planning decisions.
  • Tall buildings should relate to their context including scale, height, urban grain, streetscape, and built form. The architectural quality of a tall building is important, in particular the top of a tall building would be visible over a long range distance; the design quality should be of the highest quality.
  • Local planning authorities, in their local development plans, should prepare policies for tall buildings and identify locations that are and are not appropriate for tall buildings.
  • 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:
    09 January 2007
  • Local authority:
    Portsmouth City Council
  • Region:
    South East
  • Type of application:
    Full Planning
  • LPA planning reference:
    Ref A*22158/AC
  • Planning Inspectorate appeal reference: