An application for prior approval of the demolition of a series of High Street buildings in the town of Starbeck near Harrogate:
Built as Harper’s Grocery (a name still embossed in the stone), this building has stood derelict since a fire in 2018, which destroyed the roof and left the structure beyond repair, at least in the words of the developer.
The Conservation Officer in this instance has his hands tied by the fact that the building sits just outside the conservation area, albeit next door to a listed church. He has urged the reuse of the historic facade, but the plans show the building being replaced:
The building appears to be of a high quality, taking cues from the current structure. A good planner would manage to get the impressive facade retained, with any new development built of matching stone. The pre-application dialogue, not being a matter of public record, probably has established the outcome of this site already.
The redevelopment is supported with suspicious alacrity by the Ward Councillor. Fires, irreparable roofs, and zealous politicians always ring alarms bells with me. I’ll say no more…
UPDATE, THIS APPLICATION HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN HOWEVER A RESUBMISSION MAY STILL BE MADE
Application to clear the site of Arlington Road primitive methodist chapel in Redcar and Cleveland:
A classic Wesleyan Church in ceremonial North Yorkshire is to be dropped to make way for housing, following an application made by the Council, to the Council.
Loftus is an (almost) coastal market town in Cleveland, and is a hidden gem of heritage.
This building represents the end of the high street and offers a landmark building to round-off the coherent street frontage of the town. Its loss will have a major impact on the townscape.
The church is in the conservation area and contributes immensely to it. The heritage statement argues that because the church is not mentioned directy, it is ‘of little heritage significance’. However the very purpose of a conservation area is a blanket protection, without the need to reference individual buildings, which are usually too numerous to detail but contribute to a heritage townscape.
The usual rhetoric of the building becoming an ‘eyesore’ and a ‘public health and safety concern’ is also present. The statement even argues that the flattened empty plot and close board hoardings would ensure ‘the appearance of the conservation area would be enhanced’
This is a good example of the democratic planning process being flouted. How can the Council determine an application submitted by The Council dispassionately? Is there any value in objecting when this is clearly a decision that was made behind closed doors a long time ago?
Plans to demolish and redevelop the former Debenhams building in Harrogate:
It was bound to happen. The collapse of Debenhams has left a vacuum of listless retail space in every high street across the country. Asset managers know they can’t find another department store tenant in the age of Amazon, and so we are going to see more and more of these Victorian/Edwardian department store buildings purged.
This is a particularly egregious example. Harrogate prides itself on its heritage. This is a Victorian spa town, and thousands flock there each year to see this charm. If you demolish it, then you will slowly lose that pull, and Harrogate will become irrelevant. Enough of the town was already lost to the concrete before the planners realised how precious Harrogate is.
This is a genuinely stunning example of Edwardian commercial architecture, with the striking wall end gables well suited to a highly prominent corner plot.
The building is quite clearly robust and has operated as a retail premise since the very recent collapse of Debenhams. There is absolutely no need to redevelop this site from the ground up. The only justification cited is the split levels and the nuanced space designed for retail. I am not familiar with the interior layout, but if it was operating as a modern department store in recent history, then surely it is still fit for purpose? Architects are supposed to be able to offer solutions to this kind of thing aren’t they?
This reason alone can not justify the loss of such a landmark building, which is in a conservation area and surrounded by listed buildings. If this building is lost, Harrogate Council will have proven that commercial interests trump heritage designation. There is no clearer example of when a planning authority needs to say no.
It is very sad to see that Heritage England, and the Harrogate Civic society are both supportive of the demolition. The County Council also appears confused, and has declined to comment because it is ‘a change in use’. How odd.
The heritage assesment that will ultimately condemn the building is by Woodhall Planning & Conservation. It must have been a strain to write up a report that recommends demolishing such a building. Describing this as a ‘redundant and tired building’ and claiming that the new introduction will bring ‘vitality to the conservation area around the clock’ is laughable. How do you sleep?
I urge any readers to get their comments into the Council as soon as possible.
Application to see off the last of the Hoyl Ing mills in Huddersfield:
Operating until 2007, this was one of West Yorkshire’s most persistent textile companies. Still in use for storage until 2013, much of the mill buildings were demolished following a fire, however the chimney and two of the 3 story buildings have somehow made it to 2022.
Being in a conservation area, the Council should be engaging with the developer to secure as much of the heritage asset as possible, as the industrial buildings in proximity to the residential terraces are the defining characteristic of Linthwaite’s conservation area. If this character is not respected and upheld, I fail to see the point of such a designation.
Further frustration in this instance comes from the knowledge that in 2014 far superior scheme was granted permission (shown below), which retained as much of the mill as possible, including the chimney, and generally respected the principle of the Conservation Area. The Council should therefore be in a position to refuse this new application as there is a principle of development contingent on preservation already in place. To give consent at this stage would be an inconsistency in their decision making.
The map and aerial image below show how the site has changed since 1900.