Historic Bridgnorth building to be demolished for 50 retirement flats
An historic 19th century building sitting between two conservation areas is to be bulldozed to make way for 50 retirement flats.
Planning permission has been granted to Churchill Retirement Living to raze Innage Lea to the ground after an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.
The Hampshire-based firm has applied to Shropshire Council to demolish the former William Williams builder's merchants four times but had previous attempts knocked back due to its size and scale, how it fits into the local area and whether the development would significantly contribute to housing needs.
The site lies between the Bridgnorth and Innage Gardens conservation areas. In 2016 the building was targeted by arsonists, with significant damage being done.
Planning inspector Ian Radcliffe found that the proposed development would be well designed in terms of scale, layout and appearance, and would complement the character and appearance of the area, including the setting of the adjacent conservation areas.
In his report he said: "The appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted for demolition of the existing buildings and redevelopment."
Bridgnorth Civic Society has been vocal against the plans, insisting that destroying the buildings would take away part of the town's heritage.
Councillor David Cooper, who is part of the society, said: "Our concern was also that it was much too big, but it would appear that the Planning Inspectorate doesn't agree.
"It sits between two conservation areas. On a previous application the Planning Inspectorate said 'no, sorry,' but it looks like they've made the amendments to the proposal.
"There was concern in the town that the building would become an eyesore after the arson, and a lot of people would have been keen to see something done. But maybe something that was not so big."
Stuart Goodwill, managing director of Churchill Retirement Living’s in-house Planning consultancy, described the planning application process as taking "much longer than we had hoped".
"There is a compelling overall housing need in Bridgnorth and the surrounding area, especially for older people," he said.
"Our site is in a highly sustainable and accessible location for a new development of this kind, so we believe this decision is good news for the town. Allowing older people to downsize will also help free up more homes for families and younger people in the local area.”