PLANS to redevelop a prominent Grade II listed building in Stratford town centre look set to be thrown out by councillors amid conservation concerns.
The proposal to demolish the extensions and outbuildings of York House in Rother Street and refurbish the building for offices – as well as build nine townhouses to the rear – go before Stratford District Council’s Planning Committee on Wednesday January 18.
But planning officers have recommended members of the committee refuse the application following concerns raised by SDC’s Conservation Officer and Heritage England.
The building was likely to have once been a farmhouse and was also recorded as a public house, ‘The Prince of Wales’ by the late 19th Century. It was later the York House Hotel and then in the mid-20th Century becoming a newspaper print works, most recently by local newspaper, The Stratford Herald. The newspaper has now relocated elsewhere within the town and the property currently lies empty.
The application, submitted by York House Limited, has attracted the support of both Stratford Town Council and ward member Coun Jenny Fradgley.
But a report submitted by the Conservation Officer states that the application “may cause significant harm to the fabric and character” of the building.
The Conservation Officer’s report questioned the validity of the statement that the plans stated no changes will be made to the 17th Century element of the building, except decoration, as well as there no longer being proposals to reconfigure internal layout or remove partitions.
The Conservation Officer argued that the revised plans – drawn up to reduce the imposing nature of the development – still showed removal of some partitions including areas of walling and timber partition between several rooms. And a 17th Century external chimney stack of ‘”special interest” was missing from the drawings.
Historic England also raised concerns about “the lack of satisfactory analysis and assessment which has the potential for the scheme to cause harm to the historic fabric”.
Two letters of objection have been received by SDC raising concerns including overshadowing, noise, insufficient parking provision, the density of the development and the impact on nearby businesses including the Playhouse due to noise disturbance.
In documents to be presented before members of the planning committee, planning officers state: “The principle of the scheme would be acceptable. However, the proposed density, scale and design of the scheme would not respect the historic character and townscape.”
The statement adds: “I have taken into account the public benefit of nine new dwellings in a sustainable location, the redevelopment of the previously developed land and the reuse of the Listed Building. However, I do not consider the benefits outweigh the harm identified to the heritage assets. Considering the objections raised above the proposal cannot be supported.”