Published: 12:00, 08 September 2017
| Updated: 14:05, 08 September 2017
A developer has lost its appeal to convert a prominent Canterbury office block into flats.
Planning inspector Nick Palmer sided with Canterbury City Council which had rejected the proposal for BT's Becket House building in New Dover Road.
He agreed that the development would result in the loss of irreplaceable office accommodation in a key central location.
The city council had rejected Telereal Trillium/British Telecommunications' proposal to turn the building into 118 homes.
It appealed the decision, prompting a planning inquiry in July.
Cllr Jenny Samper, chairman of the council's planning committee, said: "Naturally we are pleased the inspector has supported our decision.
"This is a building in a prime location that can still have a very important role to play in providing office accommodation in the city.
"If the appeal had been allowed, it would have been lost forever."
The council refused the application for reasons including the loss of employment floor space in the city, the impact on the local economy and the effect of the proposal on two adjoining conservation areas.
In his ruling, Mr Palmer concluded he had "[I]dentified harms to the character and appearance of the area and the local economy. There are no other matters that weigh in favour of the proposal that would alter the planning balance".
BT still uses parts of the building. The council says it will work with the company to explore future options to help it remain within the district.
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