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
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.