A SUPERMARKET topped with flats can be built in central Harrow, it has been decided, despite criticism of its design.
Joint developers Parkridge Development and London Underground were refused permission for the scheme, known as Neptune Point, by Harrow Council's planning committee in September 2008 and decided to appeal.
Last month an independent Government-appointed inspector led a public inquiry into the plans to redevelop the Travis Perkins site in Neptune Road, Harrow, and it was revealed today that he has upheld the appeal.
Councillor Marilyn Ashton (Conservative), portfolio holder for planning and chairwoman of planning committee, blasted the outcome.
"It's a terrible decision," she said. "It undermines the ability of locally elected councillors to come up with with solid and robust grounds for refusal.
"I don't think was an acceptable form of development. We were only following what CABE - the Government's design gurus - said and they said it was 'fortress-like'. The GLA (Greater London Authority) weren't keen on it either.
"This is a very bad day for Harrow. I'm beginning to realise that actually it really doesn't matter what I or other committee members think, what really matters is what the inspectors think and the secretary of state thinks."
The proposed building will contain a 3,458 sq m Sainsbury's store - open 8am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 6pm on Sunday - with a restaurant on the ground floor and a 200-space car park.
Sitting above the store would be between four and six storeys of 146 flats with roof gardens and a car park for 75 vehicles.
Six petitions opposing the development were submitted to Harrow Council last year before it threw out the application on the grounds that the building would be "over dominant" and "of poor design and layout".
But in an analysis of the scheme submitted to the inspector, Paul Hinkin, of Black Architecture, wrote: "The scheme is an appropriate and indeed natural response to the site, its context and to planning, design and development objectives. The concerns raised are ill-founded."
In response, Harrow Council said: "The development would have a fortress-like appearance, substantially at odds with the predominant domestic scale and character of development in the area.
"The local authority is also concerned that, due to its bulk and height, the building will be visible from a long distance and will have an adverse impact on the townscape generally."