Planning Inspectorate Gives Significant Weight to Applicant’s Engagement with The Design Review Pane

The Design Review Panel are delighted to note that Pegasus Life have secured planning permission through public inquiry for a Sarah Wigglesworth Architects scheme for a C2 assisted living community at The Knowle, Sidmouth.

The Design Review Panel ( were instructed by East Devon District Council (EDDC) to provide multidisciplinary, expert, independent and impartial guidance and feedback to the local authority, applicant and design team during the pre-application design stage. Having reviewed the scheme over a number of sessions, ultimately The Design Review Panel were very supportive of what they considered to be a high-quality design. It is excellent to see that the Planning Inspectorate has agreed with the view of The Design Review Panel and given weight to the applicant’s engagement with the Design Review Panel.

The planning application was for an assisted living community for older people comprising extra care units, staff accommodation and communal facilities, including a kitchen, restaurant/bar/café, a well-being suite comprising gym, treatment rooms and pool, a communal lounge and storage facilities; car parking for residents, visitors and staff of the assisted living community; comprehensive landscaping comprising communal and private spaces; and associated groundworks.

The application site was East Devon District Council (EDDC) own office building at The Knowle, Station Road, Sidmouth, Devon, EX10 8HL.

There were a variety of issues considered as part of the inquiry, however the main issues raised were the effect on the character and appearance of the area; the effect on neighbours’ living conditions, with particular regard to loss of privacy and overbearing impact to Hillcrest and overbearing impact on Blue Hayes and Old Walls and the effect on the adjacent grade II listed summerhouse.

The Planning Inspector states that the applicant’s engagement with the, multidisciplinary, Design Review Panel is one of the reasons for approval, the Inspectors decision notice states: -

“The scheme was subject of various consultation events with the public and other interested parties and was amended several times during the course of the planning application to respond to feedback. This includes extensive comments from the Devon Design Review Panel, used by the Council to provide professional advice on design matters. The proposed development has clearly evolved to take such views into account.”

The Inspectors report goes on to concur with the Design Review Panels guidance and feedback given during the pre-application design stage, stating: -

“The development is much larger in scale than the immediately surrounding residential properties, but the proposed design appears to be a response to site circumstances, particularly the highly irregular topography. I have had regard to the high level of concern raised by interested parties and note that the contemporary approach adopted may not be to everyone’s taste. However, I am satisfied that the appeal proposal has evolved through a thorough analysis of the site circumstances and that the development would, overall, make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the area …

… As such, I find no conflict with Strategy 6, Strategy 48 or Policy D1 of the LP, which support development within built-up areas where compatible with the site and its surroundings; seek to reinforce local distinctiveness, including through the use of local materials; and generally, require high quality design, amongst other things.”

This project provides an excellent example of the benefit of engaging with an independent, impartial, multidisciplinary and expert Design Review Panel as part of the early design / pre application stage of a built environment project.

A well-deserved result for the design team and Pegasus Life.

[For another example of the Planning Inspectorate giving the feedback from The Design Review Panel significant weight, please click here ...]

CGIs done by PreConstruct for PegasusLife

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