A bid to have planning refusal overturned for a block of 37 retirement apartments in Wem town centre has failed.

The Planning Inspectorate has backed Shropshire Council’s decision to reject the scheme in New Street, on the grounds that it would be overbearing for nearby residents and out of keeping with the town’s conservation area.

The inspector, Thomas Bristow, also agreed with the council’s judgement that the welfare of the future residents of the flats would be impacted by the lack of open space.

Under the plans, several buildings on the site, next to the entrance to Wem Business Park, were to be demolished to make way for the four-storey L-shaped complex.

Mr Bristow’s report says the applicant, Derrick Dulson, accepted the proposals did not adhere to council planning policies which require 30 square metres of open space per bedroom for such developments, but had not provided details of how much open space was included.

Whitchurch Herald: The site of the planned flatsThe site of the planned flats

It says Mr Dulson had claimed that “elder people typically downsize into retirement properties in order to avoid the onerous maintenance burden of large gardens”.

The report says: “That statement cannot be read other than as an assertion that older people tend to need less outside space than others.


“That is not necessarily so. Open space benefits wellbeing, irrespective of whose wellbeing.”

Mr Bristow also criticises the density of the development, which he says would “significantly exceed that which is typical of the area”.

The report does acknowledge that the site, having been vacant for many years, is in a state of disrepair and has been subject to vandalism and fly tipping.

Whitchurch Herald: How the complex could have lookedHow the complex could have looked

It says: “As a whole, in its present state… the site detracts from the conservation area.”

However, Mr Bristow says the scheme in its current form would result in harm to the conservation area and the setting of nearby listed buildings, namely Park House and Roseville House.

The report says the proposed building is too “bulky”, in contrast to the “characteristic liveliness and intimacy” of its surroundings.

It adds: “The proposed building would unduly draw the eye, jarring with prevailing consistency and competing with the form of Park House in particular.

“The scheme would thereby detract from historic integrity, entailing harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area and setting of Park House and Roseville House.”

Turning to the impact on nearby residents, the report says: “The proposal would adversely affect the living conditions of the occupants of neighbouring properties by virtue of resulting in an overly dominant, enclosing presence.”

Mr Bristow concludes that the appeal should be dismissed.