A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to knock down an attractive 18th Century building in Alton High Street and replace it with an “ugly retro box” has been turned down by East Hampshire planners on the grounds that it would “fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the town’s conservation area”.

The proposal, by Hook-based agent Bell Cornwell Chartered Town Planners on behalf of Andrew Scott, was to demolish 9-11 High Street, currently home to an insurance company, and replace it with a “modern” building with A1/A2 use at ground level with seven residential apartments on the two floors above.

In giving the thumbs down to the application at a meeting last Thursday, and in line with an objection raised by East Hampshire District Council’s (EHDC) conservation officer, the district’s planners cited the “design, size, positioning and massing” of the proposed redevelopment which, it was felt, would have a detrimental impact on the conservation area and in particular “the setting of the adjacent listed building and a building of local historic interest”.

And as such, they said, it would be contrary to local planning policy.

Furthermore, it was considered that the resulting development would provide a “poor residential amenity for the future occupants of the properties due to the limited outdoor amenity space, the lack of outlook from the proposed flats and their proximity to the odour control plant at the adjacent hot food takeaway outlet leading to noise and odour nuisance”.

It also failed to provide parking to the required minimum standards, as laid out in the Alton Neighbourhood Plan.

While Alton Town Council had raised no objection to this revised plan, the Alton Society remained unhappy with the front elevations and with the “cramped” internal planning.

Other objectors had expressed “disappointment” over what they viewed as the failure of the applicant to “reflect the design considerations of the town as protected by the Alton design statement as augmented by the neighbourhood plan”.