Development is out of character

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There is a planning application and associated listed building application regarding the development of Abbotsford School on the corner of Bridge Street and New Street in Kenilworth. I wish to record my strong objection to the proposal.

The current proposal covers only the demolition of outbuildings and part of one annexe to the main building, and building in their place 8 new dwellings.

My main concerns as a resident and neighbour of the property are that the main building should be protected from further deterioration and that any development provides it with a viable future. I believe that the local councils (town and district) share these concerns. This application, far from addressing these concerns, deliberately avoids the issue. The development of densely packed housing in its grounds will in my view jeopardise any long term viable future for the main building.

Although this application avoids mention of the main building, we know from previous planning applications that English Heritage are insisting that the intended purpose is as a single family dwelling house. This would be an extremely large house, in excess of 6,000 square feet. It will be expensive to heat and maintain, and would only appeal to a very well-off family. I am certain in my own mind that the proposed access to the property, through a car park serving dense and comparatively low value housing, would significantly deter suitable purchasers.

I believe that it is very likely that the main building would find use as informal shared accommodation – say, one purchaser with significant members of “extended family” and “friends”.

Finding parking for visitors and visiting tradesmen is difficult, recently made nigh-impossible by the imposition of parking charges in the Abbey Fields car park. When all the family is here we regularly need to find up to six parking spaces, and for larger gatherings of family and/or friends we often run into double figures.

Abbotsford House is envisaged as a house essentially without a garden (at best, a tiny garden doubling as a car park) and I really struggle to see how this could work for any family. The house and garden are so disparate is size that I don’t understand who it will appeal to. I would suggest that the Council solicit advice from local estate agents on this point.

The current proposal includes building three three-storey dwelling houses which directly overlook our hitherto private back garden. Not only that, but they appear to have been provided with full height picture windows on the first floor from which to enjoy the view. This seems to me a deliberate and unjustifiable intrusion on our privacy, and I object most strongly to it.

Kenilworth residents live where they do because they like the character of the town. Planners, residents and developers have to date been careful to preserve the character and nature of the town, To allow a development such as this in a conservation area would question the whole purpose of having conservation areas in the first place, and bring the system into disrepute.

RI Watson, Fieldgate Lane, Kenilworth