QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF PAYNE||Claimant|
|SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT||First Respondent|
|ROYAL BOROUGH OF WINDSOR AND MAIDENHEAD COUNCIL||Second Respondent|
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Miss L Busch appeared on behalf of the First Respondent
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"(1). Where it appears to the Inspector that one or more matters would be more satisfactorily resolved by adjourning the hearing to the appeal site he may adjourn to that site and conclude the hearing there provided he is satisfied that --
(a) the hearing would proceed satisfactorily and that no party would be placed at a disadvantage;
(b) all parties present at the hearing would have the opportunity to attend the adjourned hearing; and
(c) the local planning authority, the appellant or any statutory party has not raised reasonable objections to it being continued at the appeal site.
(2). Unless the hearing is to be adjourned to the appeal site pursuant to paragraph (1), the Inspector --
(a) may inspect the land during the hearing or after its close; and
(b) shall inspect the land if requested to do so by the appellant or the local planning authority before or during the hearing."
"1. The parties' witnesses disagree as to whether there was any agreement, whether at the hearing venue or on Llanvair Drive, that the Inspector would not go onto 17 Llanvair Drive. It is the Secretary of State's position that the parties did agree at the hearing venue that she would not go on to 17 Llanvair Drive, while the Claimant and her witnesses deny that this is the case. It is also the Secretary of State's position, however, that nothing turns upon this factual issue, so far as the lawfulness of the Inspector's conduct is concerned, i.e. it is the Secretary of State's position that the Inspector acted lawfully, irrespective of whether the parties were agreed with respect to the above matter or not. And accordingly the Secretary of State will not argue the case on the basis that there was an agreement.
2. In respect of how the consideration of the appeal moved from the hearing venue to Llanvair Drive, it is agreed that:
(i) the Inspector referred to adjourning the hearing and that participation would be limited to observing and commenting on factual matters on the site and that there would be no further discussion of the merits of the appeal.
3. In those circumstances, the cross-examination of witnesses is not required.
4. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council has not indicated any intention to take part in the proceedings."
And it has not.
"Is it essential for the inspector to enter the site to assess the impact of the proposal?"
by answering "yes."
"Unless the hearing is to be adjourned to the appeal site ..."
where it has been requested.
"The main issue is the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the surrounding area."
"The proposed development would have the appearance of a two storey house with third storey accommodation in the roof ... It would occupy most of the width of the plot. It would be sited broadly within the building line with the adjacent dwellings. In terms of scale it would be substantially deeper than both the adjacent dwellings and substantially wider and higher than number 19."
"The Appellant has submitted a computer model of the proposal superimposed over the original dwelling and the previous scheme which was shown at the hearing together with other views of the proposal. This confirms my site visit impressions that in the views from both the north and the south towards the site [I interpose that that too is the subject of challenge in relation to one of the grounds, to which I referred earlier], there would be a substantial erosion of the gap by the height of the roof, the depth of the house and its width at first floor level and above. I disagree with the Appellant that the depth would not be apparent or harmful."
"... the erosion of the gap between the dwelling and the adjacent dwellings would create a substantial frontage of built development which, given its combined height, width and depth would appear unduly prominent in the street scene."
"12. The fact that the remaining gaps would meet the Council's minimum design guidelines and that these gaps would be clearly seen in the view immediately facing the site does not mitigate against this harm. Neither does the fact that the proposal would be partially screened by the existing laurel hedge when seen from immediately outside the site. This is because that view is one experienced from a stationary position rather than from the more usual position of moving along the street. For these reasons I disagree with the Appellant that the proposal would have minimal impact on the street scene.
13. Although the Council indicated in its officer's report that the height was acceptable, it is clear to me from its statement and the submissions made at the hearing that it considers the height unacceptable in combination with the proposed width and depth."
"The proposed changes to the width and depth of the house … are slight changes which, despite their combination with the changes to the roofscape, would not significantly change the appearance of the proposed house in the street scene from the previous scheme. This proposal does not adequately address the concerns of the Council or the previous Inspector."
"... I recall explaining to Mr White at the adjourned hearing that the main issue was the proposed development's effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding area and that I did not need to go onto the site to appreciate its location and setting."
"My impression of 17 Llanvair Drive and its immediate surroundings has always been that it is a very well screened site and that from some positions in the road you can hardly see it at all."
"I would have protested, because there were so many aspects of the case to be considered on site as well as from the surrounding area. For instance I knew there had been many references to the width of the proposal and I and others had made points about how in relation to plot size this was fully in accordance with council requirements. I knew that Mr White had laid out the site coverage of the proposal with markers and I thought this would enable the Inspector to assess exactly how the proposal would sit on the site in relation to the surrounding properties. I felt the scheme could not be properly assessed without going on to the actual property, especially as she stated her department had not been able to open John Mullaney's video presentation. One has to evaluate the building setting and context, not just its presentation to the street. When viewed from the rear garden its relationship to its neighbour in comparing relative heights and distance to boundaries also has to be appreciated. It would also have shown that the building's rear wall line hardly differs from the existing. Also by going on to visit one has to experience the relative ground levels especially the drop in ground level on the front drive where the proposed double garage is hidden behind the tall laurel hedge. All of this simply could not be done adequately from the road. I think if an inspection had been made the Inspector would not have made the statement in paragraph 8 of the decision letter that the proposal would be substantially wider than number 19, because this is simply not the case."