Campaigners opposing a controversial planning application to turn a Grade II-listed building into a restaurant are celebrating a “small victory”.

Stevenage resident Richard Everett criticised Stevenage Borough Council’s (SBC) process in dealing with an application to turn a house in High Street into a 30-seater bistro restaurant.

Case officer James Chettleburgh had told Mr Everett SBC was not planning to consult with English Heritage about the application, despite the plans calling for the demolition of two load-bearing walls at 11 High Street.

However SBC has now contacted Mr Everett, who lives in a property backing on to the house, to say it will be consulting with English Heritage for approval before progressing further.

Speaking on behalf of residents who oppose the development, Mr Everett said: “As I said before, it is not acceptable for councils to simply pick and choose which laws they follow and which ones they do not. It has been known for the secretary of state to overturn applications that have been passed prematurely by local authorities.

“It’s a small victory but I am pleased that the council has reversed its previous position and chosen to comply with the law. I want them to know that I am watching them. If there are any other occurrences of process irregularities on this application I will have no hesitation in acting again.”

High Street residents gathered outside the building, situated opposite the Bowling Green, on Saturday to protest the plans.

They previously met with the town’s MP, Stephen McPartland, who gave his support to their campaign.

Neighbour Sharon Jarrett said: “My family live directly next door to this application and we’re still waiting for our planning application notice to come through. It actually fell upon our neighbour to inform us of this proposal. We are angry at having not been consulted properly. Why has this application been able to progress so far?”

The application currently has a target determination date of April 10, but is not listed on the agenda for the next planning and development committee meeting which is being held at Stevenage Borough Council’s offices in Danestrete on April 2.