September 26th, 2016

‘Saving heritage will just leave the site derelict’

‘Saving heritage will just leave the site derelict’ ‘Saving heritage will just leave the site derelict’
Updated: 10:03 am, May 07, 2015

AN ATTEMPT to preserve a piece of Redditch’s history could result in another derelict building damaging the town’s landscape, a developer has warned.

Members of Redditch Borough Council’s planning committee have agreed to remove permitted development rights allocated to the chapel on the corner of Birchfield Road and Chapel Street to prevent it from being demolished without planning permission.

The building is locally listed having been built about 1867 by Alfred Smallwood and planners say is considered to be a heritage asset worthy of protection and a landmark due to its location and distinctive design.

It was most recently used by the New Testament Church of God but closed about 2008 before being sold to Oakside Property Ltd which wants to demolish the building and create housing on the site.

But David Bush, from Oakside Property, said the decision by councillors could have scuppered the project and may cost taxpayers thousands of pounds in compensation if any future planning application is rejected on those grounds alone.

He told the Standard he had looked at trying to convert the building but there were numerous problems including the position of the windows which would result in fire safety and light issues when dividing it into two floors.

Mr Bush, who is also a borough councillor, said they had considered turning it into offices but had been advised with no parking on site they would struggle to let it.

“From our point of view the planners are using a restriction which is meant to be used in Conservation Areas and not just on general buildings.” he said.

“We have asked planners what they would like us to do with the building and they could not come up with anything.

“The building does not lend itself to conversion and unfortunately this property is going to become derelict.”

But Ailith Rutt, development management manager at the council, told the planning committee meeting on Wednesday (March 11) they continued to work with the developer and were hopeful a planning application would come before them later in the year.

The proposal to protect the property was supported by all councillors except Coun Roger Bennett, who said: “I believe we should protect our old buildings if they are of some use but my concern is this will fall into disrepair and we will be sat here in 12 to 18 months time saying the walls are falling in, it’s been vandalised and all the rest of it.”

But Coun Andy Fry said: “It is the chapel of Chapel Street, it’s where it gets its name from, it’s important to the local area and I believe it’s worthy of supporting.”