Plans for third storey above Robert Leech turned down

Robert Leech’s offices (photo: Google)


Plans to add a third storey and sloped roof above estate agent Robert Leech’s offices in Reigate High Street have been refused by Reigate & Banstead Borough Council.

The plans would have seen the extra storey and roof space used for a two-bedroom flat.

The building, at 1-3 High Street, is locally listed and sits within the Reigate town centre conservation area.

Originally the building had four storeys, up until 1951, when it was reduced to the present two.

A design statement by Colin Smith Planning said the proposal aimed to “replicate the original design and appearance of the building, before the upper floors were removed, which is believed to have been the result of bomb damage during the Second World War.

“In this way the proposal will restore the significance of the heritage asset (the conservation area) and the character of the area will be sustained and enhanced.”

But the council’s conservation officer took a different view, saying that the pre-1951 building had been an “ungainly and overlarge structure”.  Its reinstatement would “have a very negative effect” on that corner of the High Street and Bell Street, he said.

The conservation officer also said that the new design would be “much higher” than the pre-1951 building because of larger gaps between window sashes, which were also taller, and the fact that the eaves were higher.

The lack of chimney stacks in the design was also a negative, he said.

The planning officer agreed with the conservation officer and refused the application on the basis that “its bulk, scale and massing, and poor design” would be harmful to the building itself and the conservation area.

The planning officer’s report did say that the flat itself would have made a “satisfactory living environment”, noting that the design had enough space and windows.

Robert Leech’s application had also referred to national planning guidance encouraging the use of space above commercial premises, and the site’s location in the urban area of Reigate marked for growth and regeneration in the council’s policies.

The planning officer’s report said that account had been taken of all matters in the application in reaching the decision.

Planning application proposals
What used to be (undated photo from planning application)
What used to be – photo c.1920