Two new homes at Charmouth which some objectors claim would be damaging to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty have been approved – on a casting vote.
The contemporary homes, which between them will provide seven bedrooms, are double the size of the previous building, Cove Cottage.
Objectors claimed the development would be ‘overbearing and overpowering’ – but the applicants insist their scheme will add, rather than detract, from the area and will be of a similar size and scale to other homes in Higher Sea Lane.
Alison Dudgeon, who is making the application with her husband, told the West Dorset planning committee that despite the 21 letters of objection she was sure people would see how the architect had worked hard to make the new homes fit into the area. The couple are planning to move to the area from Hampshire.
She said the new design has reduced the bulk of a previous plan and had been set back into the landscape – compared to Cove Cottage which, she said, “sat on a plinth.”
“These are two interesting and well-designed dwellings which will be an asset to the village,” she said.
In its objection, Charmouth Parish Council claimed: “One original dwelling is being replaced with two dwellings creating narrow plots which would appear harmfully discordant with the surrounding properties…the height and bulk of the structure from the south east is imposing upon the AONB and would have an adverse effect on the amenities in the area.”
It also said the design would mean neighbouring properties, The Beach House and The Moorings, would be overlooked.
Cllr Cheryl Reynolds, who represents the area on the district council, said there would be “a significant detrimental impact on the neighbours” if the proposal was allowed.
She added: “I would have expected any replacement home to be of a similar size and scale.”
Only one councillor, Robin Legg, spoke in favour, even though he said he also had reservations about the size of the property.
He said: “I quite like the idea of something new. We do struggle to advance to the stage of not building what is already there; we ought to build some things which are relevant to the twenty first century.”
Amongst the letters of objections were concerns about encroaching on the South West Coast Path, the design and materials chosen, insufficient parking and the buildings extending to the boundary.
Resident Jill Swindell said a previous application had been turned down with the council’s rejection being supported on appeal.
She said the reasons then included the size and scale of the building, the effect on neighbours and the AoNB:
She said: “The conclusions must be that these still apply, even more so now the site appears more open following the demolition of Cove Cottage.”
Jane Morrow, from The Moorings, told councillors that the building were ‘”incongruous with neighbouring properties and over-bearing.
“There will be a solid mass of wall and roof which will have a significant impact on our property.”
With the committee evenly split on the vote, committee chairman Cllr Fred Horsington used his casting vote to approve the application.