Hedon Town Councillors have objected to the proposed demolition of the old Post Office building in Market Place. The objection will be submitted to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council planning department.
At its planning meeting last night, Hedon Town Council considered once again the application for planning permission to demolish the old Post Office building and construct in its place two ground-floor business units with two small flats above. Once again the council objected to the proposal.
Councillor Sarah Rommell perhaps captured the mood of the meeting when she said: “The sweet shop windows of the old building add to the character of the town, you just need to look at the number of photos and pictures taken of the place over years to see that.”
The old Post Office, built in the 1950s on the site of the Tiger Inn, is not a listed building but councillors had been advised that it was ‘not harmful’ to the special Hedon conservation area. But whether the building itself has character is open to differing interpretations.
Humble Heritage consultancy acting on behalf of the applicant, Mr Saunders, said in its heritage statement:
However, in its April 2020 submission Historic England offers a differing view:
The other issue raised by this debate is whether demolition of the old building is really necessary or could the existing building be used for new purposes?
Humble Heritage in the same document quoted above thinks a new building makes more economic and environmental sense and would benefit the character of old Hedon. It would allow for an upper floor to be constructed (the existing building does not have an upper floor space) for use as two 1-bedroom apartments. There would be additional floorspace both forwards and to the rear to accommodate two businesses. A new well-designed building would actually enhance and fit in more with the character and appearance of the town; it would be built sensitively with due regard to its historic setting. A new building would be built to modern standards to improve the environmental sustainability of the development. In contrast, the existing building would require considerable investment in its repair and modernisation to achieve a satisfactory design.
Historic England has reiterated in its submissions that the current building positively contributes to the character of the area and that there does not seem to be a clearly stated justification for the demolition proposed.
Mr Stephen Walker on behalf of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Conservation Officer in his submission in November 2020 stated that the area contains a high ratio of Grade II listed buildings, and the existing building is not considered as being harmful. The introduction of a new building into this area would be in contradiction of the defined special character and appearance of the conservation area.
Again, Mr Walker offered the view that the demolition would require a high degree of justification.
Another relevant issue regarding this planning application is the economic development that might be stimulated should the planning application be approved. There will be temporary employment in the construction phase and then any employment that might result from businesses established in the two units. The expectation is that new businesses will attract more footfall in the town centre from which other local businesses would benefit. A councillor at the meeting last night did ask how many business units in the town centre were already vacant, and queried whether two new units being available would necessarily result in an increased demand for premises? But the economic argument is a powerful one and has resulted in the application obtaining the support of several local business owners.
The planning application 20/01029/PLF can be tracked at the East Riding Planning Access web portal.