Former Debenhams, Harrogate
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.
Hoyl Ing Dyeworks, Linthwaite, Kirklees
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.
Willerby Manor Hotel, Hull
A converted 19th-century mansion house, now a Best Western hotel, is to be flattened for 50 homes:
This proposal comes much to the chagrin of local residents who have overwhelmingly objected to the idea. The original mansion is still visible behind the later additions, and a detailed history of the property is available here courtesy of research by Margaret McGlashan.
The hotel closed during the Covid-19 pandemic and did not reopen. I suppose the owners realised housing was the way to go. So this Victorian Manor, possibly the historic seat of Willerby, will be lost because of the lockdown. That’s important. We will slowly see this happen more as large property owners apply the guillotine to the risky elements of their portfolios. This is what happens when ownership is not local.
The historic map above shows the original manor house in isolation before it was consumed by the hotel complex. The distance between the village and the house on the maps provides so much narrative of the social history of East Yorkshire. When it’s not there anymore, neither is Willerby’s story.
Former Sunday School, Birr Road, Bradford
Demolition of a stunning listed ecclesiastical building:
Another shocking application to denude Bradford of her history. This is the former Sunday school to the rear of Most Holy Trinity & Our Lady of Pochaiv Church in Manningham, and it is a stunning building, which cumulatively with the church forms an almost abbey size Catholic campus in the city.
The plan is to knock it down and get ten houses in there. Needless to say the housing crisis will be cited by the applicant as justification, when the building could clearly accommodate that many flats, with much lower carbon expenditure required.
A YouTube video here does a brilliant walk-around of the building. The structure appears to be sound. Granted, the windows are boarded up and someone has tagged the shutters, but the masonry looks as fresh as the day it was built. The roof also appears to be in order, particularly for a building that hasn’t been in full use for ten years. Then again, churches are built to last. I mean really last – beyond the market forces and council housing strategies of the moment.
There is no reason to demolish this building other than the fact that it would make more money as developable land. But when a building is listed, and in a conservation area, and immediately adjacent the setting of a church, and is consecrated ground (I could go on…) the economic imperative is second to its heritage significance.
How annoying that the Council is being emotionally blackmailed by the notion of enabling development that would subsidise the main church building. I need only mention that the Catholic Church is rolling in it, and doesn’t need subsidising at the expense of a crime against heritage.
I’m also saddened to see the Ukrainian Church supportive of the proposal. I mean no disrespect, but the congregation should not have the final say as putative owners. It may be their church now, but it wasn’t always. This was built for the people of Yorkshire long before and it remains our history.
Royal Oak, Mosborough, Sheffield
A retrospective application (ie. its already happened) to demolish a pub South of Sheffield:
What an egregious way to manipulate the planning system. Tear down a local pub knowing that the law states you need permission for this and then ask for it retrospectively. What can they do? Say no and tell you to rebuild the thing? I highly doubt it.
It means a lot to see the high volume of public comments on the application, also exasperated with this criminal activity. A resident notes that the pub closed during lockdown, and this is grounds for it being described as an unviable business. There was a pandemic I seem to remember.
I would love to see the swines being made to build it back, brick by brick, to specifications set out by a heritage professional. And if their business goes under so be it. You broke the law and you deserve it.
That won’t happen. Despite the public ire the planning officer will want to avoid an appeal and the developer will get their 6 houses built out before the end of 2022.
The last of old Kirkstall Road, Leeds
Application to clear a sit along the old industrial corridor of Kirkstall Road in Leeds:
This site has had a couple of applications approved over the years, all of which have demanded a carte blanche site for the arrival of a few residential towers, The two industrial buildings shown above are part of the dwindling industrial street frontage of Kirkstall Road, which is currently being regenerated in a very anti-urban way. A sequence of isolated towers with no conhesive form are slowly making their way along the arterial corridors of Leeds.
The Dulux decorator centre is asking for a craft ale taproom (Kirkstall Brewery across the road, hint hint), and the street art on the film studio building is an indicator of the cultural presence already here. If you aren’t well versed on modes of heritage led-regeneraton, and don’t understand the value sense-of-place, you are not a very talented urbanist.
A new urban quarter that could be Leeds’ Brooklyn, is likely to become Brookside; buildings clad in the same material, with the same architecture, with absolutely no relationship to the existing context or the indsutrial history.
Was it a pub? Victoria Lodge, Thorne
Application to demolish a house in Doncaster district, which suspiciously looks like an old pub:
In my humble opinion, Thorne is one of Yorkshire’s best-kept secrets. A medieval market town outside of any national park or AONB, it is a paint job and a sourdough specialist away from being Thirsk. Yet even Doncastatrians are at a loss to point it out on a map.
This building is not magnificent, and as far as I can tell was the lodgings for those using the neighboring (former) Victoria Inn, now an Indian restaurant. Whether or not the Victoria Lodge operated independently as a pub is not known to me, and will likely be a secret only the people of Thorne know.
A lovely building in an old part of town, its loss is needless as the development site to the rear is clearly already accessible.
Shown in red on the historical map from circa 1900, no indication that it was a pub at this stage.
Houses in the open countryside
I have come across various rural houses/ex farms that have gone into the planing system for demolition this month. Some of these buildings appear to be truly ancient.
The pair of cottages in Raskelf (one of my fabourite place names) above are set to be replaced with a pair of equally sized and sited deatched houses. A pointless carbon intensive excercise. Why would any Council in the land be ok with that? This farm is being sold off piecemeal via various lots at auction. This could be a new village. Historically, thats how settlements all started.
The converted barn above near Kirby Malzead is due to be replaced with a chimneyless bungalow. Buildings in the open countryside are a componant of the landscape and in this particular case, visible from huge distances. Very sad that no objection from the Parish or any local group has been made.
This beautiful farm house just outside Slathwaite will be demolished and replaced with a new build, which it has to be said is a very sensitive design. Lets hope the planners condition the reuse of materials.
12,14 and 16 Lower Brunswick Street, Leeds
Former joinery works in the Leeds’ Northern Quarter:
Its very difficult to discern what parts of this building re original and what have been replaced. The filletted brick corner shown above appears to be original, but the lack of spalling on the other flank of the building would suggest it was repaired latterly.
Nonetheless, the value of this builing comes from the paucity of the original industrial fabrc left in this quarter of Leeds. Formerly a joinery, the six compacted gables to the roof endow this street with glamour and belie its industrial function. If Leeds has any aspiration for cultural regeneraton, and a ‘quartering’ strategy for its city centre, it needs to hang on these modest yet vital buildings. Last month we saw the final remnants of the historic South Bank dissapearing. This is the same story.
Perhaps the loss of the neighbours (the Synagogue, and iconic The Brunswick Stadium boxing venue) are more lamentable, however they are gone, and as of writing, this is not.
Shown above in 1951 as the joinery works, Lower Brunswick Street was complete. No gaps for surface car parks. A full frontage.
An earlier map from 1933 shows the Synagogue and boxing venue also on this street.
Cross Keys Pub, Spalding Moor
Last pub in the village of Spalding Moor near Hull to be lost:
This received permission last year, and it looks like the demolition is going ahead very soon.
It is always a shame to lose a pub, but when its the only pub, that is tragic. What a boring place this will now be. Moreover, this pub sits on the cross roads in the centre of the village. Its a landmark building. It is the focal point of the settlement. Urban design is not a new science anymore. We know the damage that this type of development and demolition does to a community. There are so many ways a planning officer could refuse this development based on local policy. I know this because I am a planning officer, and there is always a way to make the right thing happen.