Councillors in Lincoln have rejected plans for new “modern” homes next to Lincoln’s Strelizia in Michaelgate – despite officers saying they should be built.
City of Lincoln Council’s planning committee voted 5-3 against approving John O’Donohue and Tom Gumbrell’s plans to build “unique, bespoke dwellings” on land to the rear of 10 Steep Hill, on Wednesday.
Councillors even used the opportunity to criticise Strelitzia, with Councillor Edmund Strengiel saying: “I hated that design, but we’re a democracy.”
He hit out at the flat roof of the building, saying only garages should have that design.
“They’re 50s developments, they’re awful. In keeping with the Cathedral Quarter this design is not good at all. I feel very uncomfortable voting for this application on the design, and the size of the property,” he said.
Councillor Bob Bushell said Strelitzia had been a “Marmite building… people either like it or dislike it”.
“I have to say this morning in the sunshine it looked absolutely magnificent in my view.”
He said the development site was larger than he had thought and could see there was an opportunity to build there.
“I’m not keen on flat roofs either… but that’s my subjective view and I can see why potentially that could fit in and create the least harm visually.”
He noted there was a huge amount of engineering work needed to build on the site and that any plans would have to go through Heritage England.
He said views of the Cathedral were a sticking point on many of the applications the council received adding “there’s only so many times we can use that comment”.
The developers said an initial building to the west of the site would be “contemporary but using recognisable material” while another to the east would be “a more traditional form building intended to be viewed as a discrete subservient outbuilding building linked to 10 Steep Hill”.
Mr O’Donohue, speaking at the meeting, said the site had been a “blight on the landscape” for many years and had attracted a large amount of anti-social behaviour – with a recent incident seeing £5,000 of damage done to two cars parked there overnight.
He told the meeting: “To achieve the benefits we hope these houses will bring to our families in the surrounding area, we are aware of the task and responsibility that goes with any future work.
“We feel it’s a great honour to have the opportunity to build on this site and we are not motivated by anything other than wanting to build two quality houses in a wonderful location in a fantastic city.”
Objectors had raised concerns over the appearance of the building and its impact on the historic area of Lincoln.
They also had concerns over the stability of the slope and the condition of the York stone under increased pressure from traffic.
Neighbour David Butler said the build would negatively impact his own home, the residents of Lincoln and visitors to the city.
He said: “A view can only be lost once, tonight’s decision is a defining moment in the long-term appearance of our unique and historical setting. Members will be judged on this decision for decades to come.
“Our Cathedral is the most significant landmark in our entire county and one of the most important buildings in Europe… how can it possibly be justifiable for the council to disregard the significance of this setting for the sake of open market dwellings designed for development profit that could be built anywhere else?”