New appeal over Basildon high-rise bid

A fresh appeal over plans for a town centre “landmark” consisting of hundreds of flats in Basildon has been launched.

The challenge by Basildon Estates Ltd over its application for 495 build-to-rent flats across two plots, one of which could reach 23 storeys, in Town Square was validated by the Planning Inspectorate with a start date of September 14, according to council documents.

Basildon Borough Council is also fighting a different appeal for a high-rise development in Market Square by Orwell Real Estate, which it says is likely to cost £2million.

Officers have raised concerns in council documents the buildings’ height would have a “dominating” impact on the town centre, potentially dwarfing nearby landmark Brooke House, and would therefore not fit the National Planning Policy Framework objective of being a “well designed, beautiful and safe” place.

A section reads: “The applicant aims to create a new ‘landmark’ building.

“Officers have significant concerns that any development proposal that seeks to introduce another (or alternative) landmark seeks to diminish one of the core buildings and principles of the original town centre development.

“This scheme has not addressed through the visuals or evidence how Brooke House will be impacted by this series of taller buildings.

“The collection of tall built form of this development will have a dominating impact on the town centre; which when taken together with what officers consider to be the looming and over-dominant impacts of height, bulk and massing, would contribute to the adverse impact on the quality of experience likely to be enjoyed by pedestrians in the public spaces surrounding the site.”

A section of a design and access statement by Makower Architects reads: “Our architectural language is rich and contemporary.

“It is derived from a thorough study of the modernist, New Town motifs and typologies that are expressed in the existing buildings of the surrounding area.”

The application also received 13 representations from residents against the plans, and one neither for nor against, which are summarised in the report.

One reads: “COVID has highlighted that close quarter living is a huge risk to health. Council houses are what is needed in the borough, not unaffordable flats for rent.”

Another reads: “People of Basildon want a house or low level apartment as has been the status quo for the last 20 years, not these monstrosities.”

The application was originally submitted in October 2020, according to the report, but after amendments in July 2021 a new, 30-day public consultation was carried out.

A hybrid application, it seeks detailed planning permission for one plot for the demolition of existing floorspace, erection of new buildings up to 23 storeys to provide 265 residential dwellings, along with landscaping, amenity space, car and cycle parking, new pedestrian access, plant and storage and associated works.

For a second plot, it seeks outline permission for the demolition of existing floorspace, erection of new buildings to provide up to 230 residential dwellings, along with associated landscaping, amenity space, car and cycle parking, new pedestrian access, plant and storage and associated works.

The applicant is appealing on the grounds of non-determination, which is when a local authority does not issue a decision within eight weeks.

The Planning Inspector is seeking view from the public regarding the appeal, with a deadline of October 19, according to a council statement last month.

The Planning Committee will meet on October 12 to decide whether they would have agreed to refuse permission, a decision it will then submit to the Planning Inspectorate.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter

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