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City council to bring legal challenge after planning inspector grants permission for 289-dwelling scheme

Newcastle City Council has announced it will challenge a planning inspector's decision to accept a developer's appeal and grant planning permission for a 289-dwelling high-rise set upon a historic quay near the town centre.

The local authority said it based its decision on legal advice but did not provide details on the grounds.

Packaged Living, the developer behind the project, had its planning application refused by the council in March 2021.

The council said the scale, massing, footprint and design of the proposed building result in harm to the visual appearance and character of the local area and would fail to deliver a high-quality building contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and policies UC12 and UC13 of the local authority's Core Strategy & Urban Core Plan and policy DM20 of the Development and Allocations Plan.

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It also argued that the building's "impact on the setting of designated heritage assets and the failure of the scheme to deliver public benefits which outweigh the harm, would be contrary to the NPPF, Policy UC14 of the Core Strategy & Urban Core Plan and policies DM15 and DM16 of the Development and Allocations Plan".

However, planning inspector Claire Searson found that the development would not be incongruous with the skyline, would not significantly harm nearby heritage buildings, and the units would be spacious enough and up to standards for sunlight considerations.

On the visual impact of the development, Searson said the building's presence in the skyline would not compete with landmarks and would read as "a further modern addition to the skyline".

Moving to the impact on the heritage assets in the area, which includes an 18th-century church, the inspector found the development would involve "less than substantial harm" and would not conflict with local plan policies.

Concerning living space, the inspector said that, overall, the development would conflict with the council's local plan as the minimum space standards would not be met. "However, in light of the site-specific circumstances as a BTR development and the wider offer of internal amenity space as a material consideration, on balance, I am satisfied that the development would achieve acceptable living standards," the inspector concluded.

The inspector also dismissed the council's arguments over the lack of light for occupants in the proposed development, despite identifying harm and policy conflict.

She said: "[When] taking into account the urban context and the longstanding expectation of development at [the plot] and the owners enjoying light over the open development site, here I consider that balance falls in favour of the proposed development in terms of Daylight and Sunlight effects."

A council spokesperson said: "We have considered the decision in this case, and following legal advice have decided we will challenge the decision."

Adam Carey

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