Bell Cornwell’s Devon team has obtained listed building consent and secured a resolution to grant planning permission for a residential development in Exmouth Town Centre. The development involves part conversion of vacant buildings (most recently in community use) and part redevelopment and will provide 19 one and two bedroom apartments and two retail units.
The site is very constrained, being located within the heart of the town centre where there is a very tight urban grain. The development was particularly sensitive as it is located within a conservation area and the existing buildings are physically attached to a Grade II listed church. Preserving and enhancing the heritage asset and its setting was a crucial part of the scheme.
Bell Cornwell was responsible for co-ordinating the planning strategy and commissioning a multi-disciplinary consultant team. Bell Cornwell, along with the project architects (Expedite Design), undertook extensive pre-application discussions with the local planning authority’s planning and conservation officers and organised (pre-COVID-19) a public consultation event to share the emerging proposals with local stakeholders and members of the public. A key part of the planning justification was demonstrating that the loss of the community use would not harm social and community gathering opportunities in the area.
Several design iterations were tabled at the pre-application stage and further iterations were made during the life of the planning applications to address concerns raised by officers and statutory consultees. It was fundamental that the new building was designed to be subservient to the neighbouring listed building and all elements of the existing buildings which have heritage value have been preserved and incorporated into the scheme.
Bell Cornwell made a claim for vacant building credit, which was successful. This meant that a ‘credit’ equivalent to the gross floorspace of the vacant buildings on site was applied and deducted from the required affordable housing contribution. The project team was then able to demonstrate with robust evidence that any affordable housing contribution would render the scheme unviable. As a result, this is a 100% open market housing scheme.
The applications were recommended for approval by planning officers at East Devon District Council and received unanimous support from members of the planning committee.
This project was about making efficient and beneficial use of previously developed land in a very sustainable location. The development will regenerate a prominent part of Exmouth Town Centre, preserve and enhance a heritage asset and its setting and provide housing of a type for which there is an over-riding need in this location.
If you would like to learn more about this project or how Bell Cornwell can help you with sites in town centres or for sites which heritage impacts are a key issue please get in touch with Amy Roberts.