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Victory in Member Overturn Appeal for LB Hammersmith and Fulham

Meyric Lewis

Caerus (Sotheron Place) Limited’s appeal against the refusal of planning permission by LB Hammersmith and Fulham has been dismissed following a public inquiry.

The appeal proposals were for were for 36 residential dwellings and 2,340 sq m commercial floorspace (Use Class A1-3, B1 and D2) in buildings of up to 6 storeys (plus basement level), with associated parking, landscaping and amenity space at Sotheron Place SW6, just off the King’s Road next to the Harley Davidson garage.

Planning permission was refused contrary to officers’ recommendation on grounds of adequacy of affordable housing provision; the development’s effect on the living conditions of the occupiers of the neighbouring dwellings having regard to outlook, sense of overbearing and receipt of natural light; and effect on neighbours’ living conditions with regard to noise associated with the use of the external walkways.

The Council resolved in advance of the inquiry not to defend the reason for refusal relating to noise.

With respect to affordable housing provision, the Council reached an agreed position with the appellant whereby the provision of thirteen shared ownership homes within the development represented the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing but with the appellant accepting the use of LBHF income thresholds.  Affordable housing provision was therefore treated as being an uncontested issue as well.

In relation to outlook, sense of overbearing and sunlight and daylight, the inspector concluded that there was “no doubt” that the occupiers of some of the neighbouring occupiers would “experience some reductions in the receipt of natural light to the interiors of their properties” and that “applying the BRE guidance the increases in the overshadowing of the gardens… would appear to be significant”.  He nevertheless concluded that there would be “no unacceptable effect on the receipt of sunlight or daylight within the interiors of the immediately adjoining properties” and that the increases in overshadowing of gardens would “mainly occur in winter months when the extent of overshadowing is already very high”.

Where the infringements of the BRE Guide values for sunlight and daylight were concerned, the Inspector noted that “while those infringements might be noticeable for the occupiers of the affected properties, they would be at levels that have routinely been found to be acceptable when comparable developments have been considered in other parts of London”.

The Inspector nevertheless concluded that the size and siting of the development would cause significant enclosure, unacceptably affecting the outlook from neighbouring properties and would have an unacceptable effect on the living conditions of the neighbouring occupiers and would therefore be contrary to Local Plan policies and would also fail to accord with paragraph 127f) of the Framework because it would not provide “… a high standard of amenity for existing and future users”.

The Inspector was aware that the decision was a member overturn and that there were extensive pre-application discussions with the Council.  He also took account of the submission made on the appellant’s behalf that “it is this scheme or nothing” in terms of viability.  Despite that, he concluded that “while it is reasonable to seek to redevelop an urban site, such as this, in an efficient manner, it is equally important to ensure that the resulting development would not cause unacceptable harm to the living conditions of the occupiers of neighbouring properties”.

He dismissed the appeal.  A copy of the Inspector’s decision can be found here.

Meyric Lewis represented the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, instructed by Emmanuel Amponsah and was very much assisted by the Council’ s witnesses, Robert Fourt of Gerald Eve, Kaivin Wong of Lumina London Limited and Ieuan Bellis and Roy Asagba- Power of LBHF.