Demolition of steam factory pursued in spite of Historic England objection

MHBG-19-02-15 Steam Powered Factory NNL-150217-103903001
MHBG-19-02-15 Steam Powered Factory NNL-150217-103903001

has stepped into the row over one of Banbury’s historic sites and called for demolition plans to be scrapped.

The charity does not consider plans for the old steam factory in Canal Street, justified.

But owners Swan Directors SIPP intend to pursue demolition.

Historic England should have been consulted when consent to demolish the building was sought but Cherwell District Council planning department failed to do so. The charity was told about plans to replace the factory with industrial units by Banbury Civic Society.

Richard Peats, Historic England’s inspector of historic buildings, said: “As it has not been demonstrated that the building is incapable of being repaired and... we do not consider this harm justified.

“We consider the building of historic interest as one of the last remnants of the once thriving agricultural engineering industry in Banbury.

“Given so little remains of Banbury’s industrial heritage we counsel this harm should not be regarded as trivial.”

Site owner spokesman Martin Phillips said: “Swan Directors SIPP planned to refurbish the building but when it became clear this was not an economic option it hoped...common sense would prevail and its application would be seen as an attempt to start regeneration of a very run down part of Banbury. That has not been possible due to a lot of inaccurate costs and statements on behalf of the Civic Society. This has lead to Historic England making statements without even visiting the site, let alone making sure of facts.”

Mr Phillips said Swan now needs to prove refurbishment is uneconomic.