A hearing to determine the future of a Banbury town centre ‘eyesore’ has been set for September with permission in place to turn the building into either 40 flats or a hotel.
At a meeting of Cherwell District Council’s planning committee last Thursday, councillors approved separate planning applications to develop the Crown House building in Christchurch Walk.
The current owner, Slighte Ltd, has proposed creating a 73-bedroom hotel while the district council, which has issued a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to obtain ownership of the site, submitted plans to create 40 new flats, ground floor retail space and parking.
Both applications received the green light from councillors but the final decision on who will be responsible for developing the site will follow a public inquiry in September.
Councillor Debbie Pickford, lead member for housing, said: “We are delighted our planning application has been approved as we feel this proposal will turn a disused eyesore into a valuable and worthwhile housing opportunity.
“Crown House has remained vacant for more than 20 years, which is why we made a compulsory purchase order to buy the site.
“The site has sat empty for long enough and we want to bring it back into use.
“By using the building to provide flats the benefits are two fold; residents will be provided with much-needed housing and a town centre eyesore will be transformed.”
The order was made by Cherwell at the beginning of this year after previous offers to purchase the site were rejected by Slighte Ltd.
A two-day public inquiry will now take place at Bodicote House on September 3 and 4 before a final decision on the CPO is issued in spring next year.
Another application which was submitted by Slighte Ltd as part of its main application was also approved. It would see the partial demolition of an adjacent building in Bridge Street to create a restaurant and five duplex apartments.
The granting of planning permission means Slighte Ltd can progress with its application but if the council’s CPO is upheld, the site will have to be sold to Cherwell regardless of any developments in the application process.