December 20 2013 Latest news:
Safira Ali, Senior reporter
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
A controversial development dubbed Towie Towers has been thrown out by the government’s planning inspectorate.
The plans were to demolish the former bike shop on the corner of Hart Street and Crown Street and build a block with 17 flats and ground-floor shops.
It was being built by MCC Developments, owned by Paul Mecklenburgh, whose daughter Lucy stars in The Only Way Is Essex.
Plans for a smaller three-storey development on the site were approved in March but the firm was hoping that the bigger application would be approved.
The development, also known as the Gherkin of Brentwood, was refused by Brentwood Council’s planning committee.
Now, after an appeal, it has also been refused by the government over fears that it would affect the character and appearance of the Brentwood conservation area.
Conservation area fears
In her report, inspector Ava Wood said: “A gap created by the loss of the building would be harmful to the conservation area and should not be entertained unless a satisfactory replacement building is forthcoming.”
She added that there were some “serious concerns” about the scale and design of the building, describing it as a “highly pronounced, monolithic feature which would dominate the smaller scaled buildings in Crown Street”.
Brentwood Council leader Louise Mckinlay said it was a “good result” for the area.
She said: “I am pleased to see the result of the appeal backs the council’s position.”
Cllr Mckinlay said the area was in need of development but that “clearly the impact of what was applied for was simply too much and would have been detrimental to our town centre.”
Brentwood South ward’s Labour councillor Julie Morrissey said she was keen to see the corner developed but “not at any cost”.
Cllr Morrissey was “in complete agreement” with the inspector, saying that the development was “simply too big” and would have had an “overbearing impact” on the niche area.
She added: “The smaller buildings in Crown Street would have been swamped by the mass of the larger development.
“The shops in Ropers Yard directly adjacent to the site would have also been adversely affected by the scale of the design.
“Thank goodness common sense has prevailed.”