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Cornwall councillors reject LDS care home replacement

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Councillors in Cornwall have rejected ‘unsympathetic’ designs by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands to replace a former care home in Falmouth with flats

The county council’s Central Sub-area Planning Committee refused to grant planning permission for the London practice’s proposals for Sheldon House on Sea View Road in the coastal town.

Planning officers had recommended approval of the scheme, which featured 34 two-bed flats across five blocks of up to five storeys each. 

But councillors turned down the proposal, saying its ’excessive height and unsympathetic design’ would have an ’unacceptable adverse impact’ on the character of the Falmouth Conservation Area.

The committee hearing followed two pre-application submissions; two meetings of the local design review panel, as well as a desktop review; plus further changes post-submission.

Still the final proposals remained controversial. Falmouth Town Council raised concerns of overshadowing, lack of sustainability and excessive height.

Cornwall Council’s own conservation officer said the scheme didn’t meet national planning rules and that a building of height and massing closer to its neighbours would be more appropriate for the site.

Falmouth Civic Society said there was ‘no evidence’ that an ‘Excellent’ rating was viable under the BREEAM sustainability scheme, and added that the proposed building was ‘too high’.

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands' proposed homes for Falmouth - aerial view

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ proposed homes for Falmouth - aerial view

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ proposed homes for Falmouth - aerial view

Planning officers nonetheless called for the committee to grant planning permission, subject to conditions.

The officers said the impact on the conservation area would be ‘very localised’ and ‘outweighed by the public benefit’ of new housing.

Measures such as removing a storey, repositioning windows and adding screening to walkways had prevented overlooking becoming unacceptable, they insisted.

And a sustainability statement set out a range of measures in this area including electric vehicle charging points; natural ventilation; biodiversity enhancement; and sustainable drainage.

Sheldon House was built in the early 20th century. It was initially a house, then a hotel and became a nursing home before that closed in 2018.

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands said in documents accompanying the planning application that the building had been ’unsympathetically converted and added to over the years’ and was ’no longer suitable for care home use’.

The practice has been contacted for comment on the council’s decision to reject the scheme. 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Surely not a surprising decision, despite the planning officers' efforts to make the proposals less objectionable.
    The only image showing the character of the area is the Google Streetview offering provided by the planners, which surely supports the objectors' argument - what might pass as unexceptional in, say, the suburbs of Zurich doesn't necessarily fit well in this part of the Falmouth conservation area.
    There are no images of the existing care home buildings - or even a coherent site plan - and it's difficult to sympathise with the architects in the face of local criticism that the new development would be too high and unsympathetic to the character of the conservation area.

    The argument that the existing buildings had been 'unsympathetically converted and added to over the years' and were 'no longer suitable for care home use' are justification for redeveloping the site, if nothing can be made of the existing house - but surely not for what looks remarkably like overdevelopment in bland style.

    As for the 'public benefits of new housing', there's no mention of the client, so no clue as to who would benefit from occupying the two bedroom flats - whether it's a housing association catering for young locals with little or no chance of affording anything on the open market, or a developer with an eye on the outside investors and second home owners who've done so much to kick the cost of even humble abodes into the stratosphere?

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