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Council rejects Twickenham office-to-home scheme

Richmond upon Thames Council has refused a prior approval application for a 41-home conversion of an office block due to concerns over transport impacts.

Charity Raphael Freshwater Memorial Association had applied for prior approval to convert the four storey Bridge House at London Road near Twickenham Railway Station into 41 flats. The building was previously occupied by HM Revenue and Customs but has been vacant since January 2013.

New permitted development rights introduced in May last year allow offices to be converted into homes without the need for planning permission, subject to any such proposals going through a prior approval process.

The Council's planning officers had recommended that approval was required and should be granted after finding that the scheme would be acceptable in terms of transport and highways impacts, contamination risks and flood risks. 

However, the Council's planning committee refused the application at a meeting earlier this month. It said that the absence of a parking survey, a legal agreement and a mitigation statement meant that it had not been "satisfactorily demonstrated" that the scheme would not have "severe" transport and highway impacts.

The committee also said there was an absence of evidence to show that there would not be an adverse impact on living conditions for future occupants due to contamination.

Richmond was among a group of London councils which last year launched judicial review proceedings against the government's introduction of the new permitted development rights. The challenge was dismissed by a High Court judge in January.

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