More than 500 flats set for Icon building site following successful appeal
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage's Icon Building is to be demolished to make way for more than 500 flats, after the original rejection decision was successfully appealed.
Planning permission to build seven high-rise flat blocks in the place of the office block - known as the Eagle building - was denied by the planning committee in March 2020.
The committee said at the time that the "height, design and appearance would result in the incongruous form of development which would be harmful to the visual amenities of the area" and the project would be "an overdevelopment of the site which would be harmful to the character and appearance of the area".
Subsequently, the developers appealed to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government - Robert Jenrick - and requested a hearing with a planning inspector.
Now, the inspector has ruled in favour of the developers, subject to 18 conditions.
Plans would see demolition of the Icon building and the construction of seven apartment blocks comprising 576 dwellings, together with internal roads, parking, public open space, landscaping, drainage and associated infrastructure works.
Conditions include that work should begin no later than three years after the decision date, no development should take place until revised plans showing the provision of at least 948 cycle parking spaces, and no development, including any site clearance or demolition works, shall commence until all trees within the development site which are to be retained are identified in the Tree Protection Plan.
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Portfolio holder for Regeneration at Stevenage Borough Council, Cllr John Gardner, said: “This decision is not what we hoped to share with the people of Stevenage and I am disappointed on their behalf.
"The application to redevelop the unique Icon building was overwhelmingly rejected in March 2020, with the committee concluding that the height, design and appearance of the proposed development would be out of character for the area, and raising concerns over the impact on local infrastructure.
"There is a great deal of local affection for the Icon building and I believe it is vital that this location needs to have a high quality and iconic solution in the future.
"As a council, we firmly believe that decisions on such planning matters should stay with elected members of local councils, who are best placed to make decisions about local developments and are accountable to local people.
"Now the Planning Inspector has made this decision, we will review their report in detail and consider what steps to take next. It is vital that the developer improves the plan to ensure this is an iconic development for the town to be proud of and where people would choose to live.”
A spokesperson from developers, the Hill Group, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in our appeal of the above planning permission, and the inspector upheld the original recommendation of the planning department to recommend our scheme for approval.
"The site has been unoccupied for many years, and it will provide much needed new homes on a brownfield site close to the town centre, including 52 affordable homes.”