REVISED plans to redevelop a prominent listed building in Stratford town centre have been given the go-ahead in the face of expert opinion.
Members of Stratford District Council’s planning committee voted in favour of the proposal to demolish the extensions and outbuildings of York House in Rother Street and refurbish the building for offices – as well as build eight townhouses to the rear – at a meeting on Wednesday (April 24) despite a recommendation by planning officers to throw out the application amid conservation concerns.
The planning application previously went before SDC’s planning committee in January but any decision on whether it should be given the go-ahead was deferred as councillors felt there were too many “confusing elements” within the current plans – regarding which aspects of the historic building were to be retained and which were under threat.
The proposal has since been revised with the number of townhouses reduced from nine to eight, and a site visit by councillors has taken place.
Yet planning officers still recommended the planning application be refused.
York House 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 The Stratford Herald. The newspaper has now relocated in the town and the building currently lies empty.
The application, submitted by York House Limited, has the support of both Stratford Town Council and ward member Coun Jenny Fradgley.
Coun Fradgley said at the planning meeting on Wednesday she was here again to support this innovative and elegant solution to restoring an historical town centre building, which would become an asset to the town.
She continued that she had tried to envision the impact of the proposed buildings and concluded that when you stood on the pavement in Greenhill Street, you could hardly see the buildings at all.
There would only be glimpses of the roofs and roof gardens, she claimed, and asked whether the committee felt such glimpses warranted the refusal of such a stylish development?
Coun Anne Parry said it was important to listen to local opinion.
She explained: “If the town council has come forward to support it, the ward member has come forward to support it, I’m struggling to see any significant harm to the character of the area as it is so well hidden.”
But Coun Trevor Harvey said he disagreed.
He described the proposal as “contemporary to the point of being unusual” and believed it did not fit well with the rest of the conservation area at all.
He added the “prospect offends my eye”.
Planning officers had recommended the committee refuse the plans as while the principle of the scheme would be acceptable, and the revised plans and documents have now overcome the harmful impact to the listed building, the proposed density, scale and design of the scheme would still not respect the historic character and townscape.
Members of the planning committee voted to grant the planning application eight votes to one.