Society laments lack of protection for historic buildings in Banbury

Alcock's Yard NNL-151123-143947001
Alcock's Yard NNL-151123-143947001

Banbury Civic Society has expressed frustration at a lack of will to protect Banbury’s heritage as historic buildings are being earmarked for profitable redevelopment.

Rob Kinchin Smith, chair of the society, says the latest unacceptable application for demolition is the former Rope Works, inside a mews yard in Castle Street, Banbury.

Mr Kinchin-Smith said: “The proposal is to knock down all the red-brick buildings and replace them with a terrace of four new houses.

“They also want to add a further house onto the end of the lovely terrace at the front. Alcock’s have also applied for more houses on the car-park bit of their site.”

The ropeworks was built in Victorian times to service canal trade and the building was later a suitcase-making workshop.

P R Alcock’s request comes hot on the heels of applications to demolish the old Victorian steam factory in Canal Lane, the Duke of Wellington and some historic stables in Pepper Alley, Banbury.

The Civic Society has also fought substantial demolition of the old Grand Theatre building in Broad Street and is trying to ensure the old Banbury North Signal Box remains used after its decomissioning next year.

The society has also expressed dismay at South Northants Council’s approval of the demolition of Astrop Grange to make way for retirement flats.

“It looks horribly like open-season on our heritage. It appears our historic environment is under ever-increasing attrition,” said Mr Kinchin-Smith.

In the new application by Alcock’s, the company wants to renovate the main house on the Castle Street site - Castle Mead - and to create parking spaces in the yard.

They already have permssiion to build three homes along Castle Street.

“When I saw the application I never imagined the scale of loss, given Alcock’s reputation as conservation builders, their exemplary treatment of their cottages on Castle Street and their hitherto strong association with this site,” said Mr Kinchin Smith.

“Alcocks have been strong supporters of our society and have been corporate members since our inception two decades ago. Banbury Town Council offered ‘no objection’, despite having been the driver of the local list for over a decade, though the Built Heritage Working Party.”

In its application Alcock’s said it was looking to relocate as the buildings are not suitable for current use.

The buildings, although with historical significance, are in poor repair with front and rear walls leaning some 500mm off the vertical. Rebuilding would be using reclaimed materials and giving more width and with integral garages.