Our picture is of 33 Upper Park Road. It’s not a good photo, but it’s the best we could manage from the pavement in front of the site. In spite of the poor quality, you can probably see that there’s not much left of the original building – just the facade supported by a steel structure.
Now the thing is, the site is part of the Upper Gordon Road to Church Hill conservation area. This means that any proposed development comes under particular scrutiny. As a result, the council announced in the local paper on 28th March that a planning application had been submitted to build ten flats on the site. Which initially seems odd, for our photo, which shows some pretty substantial changes to the existing building, had been taken a couple of weeks before then. Indeed, we gather that work actually started on the site at the beginning of the year. So wasn’t the council a bit late with its announcement?
In fact, we understand that this isn’t the case. Permission was actually given to replace the original building with flats a couple of years ago. But a condition was that the facade should be retained – which is what our photo shows. However, the applicant in the current proposal says: “The proposal is very similar to the original approval 2106/0691 [that should be 2016/0691] but we are proposing to reconstruct the front façade for structural reasons.”
We’ve not looked into the final points of the current planning application. But, in view of the apparent similarity with the existing approved application, and assuming that the council satisfies itself that reconstruction, rather than retention, of the facade is NECESSARY for structural reasons, we see no need for undue concern.