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Residents group condemns CABE failings in CZWG apartment row

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A row has broken out over the role played by CABE in a bid to build a new apartment building in Chelsea by Piers Gough.

Local campaigners, who successfully persuaded an inspector to throw the project out at appeal last week, claim that the design watchdog offered flawed advice in CZWG's original planning application.

They point to the appeal's report, in which the inspector claims that CABE's design advice failed to take into account the importance of the surrounding conservation areas.

The argument focuses on a scheme proposed for developer Segar for a medium-rise residential building set between two conservation areas on a brownfield site in south Chelsea.

The inspector's report recognises that CABE's advice on design was acceptable, but notes that its advisory letter takes 'no account of the conservation area views and impact on neighbouring amenity on which I have reached unfavourable conclusions'.

Local residents group FSTREPA has leapt on this conclusion to condemn the part played by the design watchdog in the application.

'It is unhelpful to the planning system for CABE to take the stance that it did, ' chairman Jonathan Kane said. 'There is no point in looking at the quality of design without looking at the context.

'As a local resident, and someone who lives near a conservation area, I feel that this is not the correct response, ' he added. 'They look at the building as it is sent to them without looking at the surrounding area and that is frustrating.' However, Gough moved to defend CABE's actions, saying that his client was 'considering' taking the inspector's decision to judicial review.

'The design reviewers said that the scheme was good and there is nothing wrong with that. There is a lot of confusion over the surrounding conservation areas, but CABE's chief advice was that the designs were excellent.' This view is shared by CABE senior design review adviser Ben van Bruggen. 'The inspector agreed with our conclusion that the scheme was designed with flair and skill, ' he said.

'To look at the surroundings and the conservation area is not our primary role, ' van Bruggen added. 'I really can't see that there is anything wrong with what we have done.'

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