Plans for 226 flats in Staines have been refused on appeal.

Future High Street Living’s proposal to demolish the former Debenhams store in Staines High Street for the Build-to-Rent scheme had been refused by Spelthorne Borough Council in June 2022. The non-designated heritage asset falls within an area into which the council had sought to extend the town’s conservation area but that move was found to be unlawful in the High Court.

Now the scheme for two blocks, one of 13 storeys and one of 15 with retail below, has lost out on heritage grounds. In her decision, planning inspector Hayley Butcher accepted that the benefits of the proposal, designed by Corstorphine & Wright, which included a 22 per cent proportion of affordable homes, were significant.

But her report went on: “Currently, the former Debenhams, at four storeys, is one of the most dominant buildings on the High Street, matched most closely by the Premier Inn at the other end.

“The result is these two four storey buildings effectively work as bookends to the High Street, whilst being broadly in-keeping with the scale of surrounding buildings.

“The proposed tower on High Street would be introducing a vastly taller building in very close proximity to an area where the overriding character is human and domestic in scale. It would feel dominating and oppressive due to its height, when viewed in close proximity on High Street.”

However, another scheme, adjacent to the site, in which 206 flats had been approved also in two blocks, one of 13 storeys and one of 15, at the former masonic lodge and telephone exchange, won approval and is under way.

The inspector ruled those would be a recessive element in the background when viewed from Clarence Street.

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