Enforcement notices requiring the reconstruction of three 19th Century buildings unlawfully demolished in the Coldharbour Conservation Area have been quashed following an inquiry (appeal ref. APP/E5900/C/17/3184938). While there was no planning application for replacement buildings, the inspector rejected the argument that no weight could be given to possible public benefits of replacement, stating that the question is “whether a[n alternative] scheme is possible”. He concluded that while there would be harm to the Conservation Area, it was at the bottom end of the scale. That harm was outweighed by the benefits of providing higher density modern housing and making a contribution towards affordable housing, and while those benefits were speculative, “it would seem highly likely that a suitable development proposal could be found and there are no obvious reasons why the landowner would not want to realise the development potential of the site.”
The inspector rejected arguments that the enforcement notices were a nullities due to the requirement for “facsimile” reconstruction or for lack of delegated authority (interpreting and applying the case of Beg v Luton BC  EWHC 3435 (Admin)).
The outcome is an interesting contrast to the decision in the Carlton Tavern case (see news item here), where an inspector upheld an enforcement notice requiring facsimile reconstruction.
Saira Kabir Sheikh QC and Ned Westaway were instructed by Jones Day and acted for the Appellant, Angelic Interiors Limited (in administration). Saira advised up to the Inquiry stage. Ned appeared at the inquiry.