Historic and important buildings in Banbury’s conservation area are not being protected by councillors, it has been claimed.
Cherwell District Council is accused by Banbury Civic Society of sacrificing the important buildings in favour of ‘one or two more flats’.
The organisation’s head, Rob Kinchin-Smith, cites the loss of a number of historic properties in the past three years that the society feels should have been given greater protection using the powers local authorities are given.
“We are increasingly concerned at the rate of loss of historic buildings in the Banbury Conservation Area, particularly ‘locally listed’ buildings,” he said.
“Having lost the locally listed Alcan factory and Spencer’s corset factory in the past decade, the three years since 2010 have seen an unprecedented and unsustainable rate of loss of Banbury’s locally listed historic buildings. These and other important buildings that are not statutorily ‘listed’ are supposed to have an enhanced level of protection that should make their loss exceptional.
“Yet in the past three years we have seen consents given for the demolition of the former Thomas Cakebread memorials showroom on Southam Road for hardstanding, 11-12 Church Lane and the former cabinet maker’s workshop in Beargarden Road, simply on the basis that the approved scheme creates one or two more flats than a scheme involving retention would have.”.
He added: “Cherwell’s apparent desire to approve almost any application, however damaging, has recently extended to consent being granted for a hotel development including demolition of the old Crown Hotel on Bridge Street, despite the scheme being in direct opposition to its own project to refurbish Crown House as self build apartments, a laudable project that would have created more than 40 desperately needed affordable homes and seen the preservation of the old hotel frontage.”
Mr Kinchin-Smith said arguments that buildings were ‘eyesores’ were wilfully misleading. He said: “Deliberately neglecting a historic building in the hope of obtaining planning consent for demolition is contrary to planning law and councils have legal powers to prevent such abuse.
“It should certainly never be a justification for granting planning consent.”