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Council disappointed at Alma Road planning outcome

Published: Wednesday, 8th May 2019

Following a Public Inquiry held in March this year, the independent planning inspector has granted permission on appeal for the re-development of the former Imperial House site in Alma Road, Windsor.

The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead is pleased that the Inspector did agree with its main concern that the proposed residential building would adversely affect the character and appearance of the surrounding area because of the design of its northern frontage and height of building on the north-western corner.  However, the Inspector concluded that this limited harm would be outweighed by the significant benefits of the scheme.  The benefits of the scheme are the re-development of a disused piece of urban land, and the provision of 217 flats and a new office building. 

Local residents raised a number of issues at the Inquiry in relation to parking, the impact on local heritage and the impact on living conditions at neighbouring properties.  The Inspector concluded that there would be no harmful impacts on these issues from the proposal. 

Cllr David Coppinger lead member for planning at the Royal Borough said: "The Royal Borough development management panel rejected this planning application based on our view that the proposed development would affect the character and appearance of the area.

"While we are disappointed by the outcome we respect the Inspectors decision and understand that the national housing shortage means that difficult choices sometimes need to be made to be made.

“We note the Inspectors comments surrounding the Borough Local Plan (BLP) which clearly show that having a fully approved BLP will ensure that our planning panels are able to make clear and evidenced decisions helping to prevent this type of intervention."

Cllr Samantha Rayner lead member for Windsor at the Royal Borough said: “We are pleased that the Inspector took on board some of the concerns raised by ourselves and residents and we'd like to thank the residents who joined forces including those from Windsor Residents Group and Windsor and Eton Society.

The permitted scheme is for a building of between one and seven storeys containing 217 residential apartments in the northern part of the site and a five storey building to provide 16,389sqm (GIA) of office floor space in the southern part of the site.  The planning application states that car parking will be provided at both ground and basement levels. There would also be a café provided as part of the residential building adjoining a new route through the site connecting to Vansittart Recreation Ground.  

The Inspector did not allow the appellant to appeal for costs.

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