planning permission refused for a redevelopment in Stevenage town centre

PLANNING permission for the demolition of retail and office buildings in a town centre and the development of restaurants, cafes and more than 180 flats has been refused. BEAMS - the trading company of Hertfordshire Building Preservation Trust - had expre

PLANNING permission for the demolition of retail and office buildings in a town centre and the development of restaurants, cafes and more than 180 flats has been refused.

BEAMS - the trading company of Hertfordshire Building Preservation Trust - had expressed concern to Stevenage Borough Council about the impact the proposed development in Park Place, Stevenage, may have on the adjacent conservation area.

The application, which included the construction of 108 two-bedroom and 73 one-bedroom flats, has been turned down by the council's planning and development committee.

In a statement, BEAMS considered: "The existing town centre, despite being partly designated as a conservation area, is, as a whole, undervalued as part of Stevenage's heritage.


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"Park Place is highlighted within the 2005 Conservation Area review as forming part of the setting of the conservation area.

"The existing buildings on Park Place are very representative of the architectural style within Stevenage's New Town centre. The buildings are three storeys, flat-roofed, clad with panels and have metal windows. They have flat-topped canopies over the shop fronts."

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But traders and shoppers in Park Place consider the buildings unappealing and not worth retaining.

Tevy Corman, owner of Top Cat Pet Emporium, said: "It's hardly gorgeous architecture is it? I wouldn't be sad to see it go. It's dead in this part of town, so I would like to see some development here. Wilkinson has taken a lot of trade up that end of the town."

Another trader, who did not want to be named, said: "The fronts of the buildings don't look that nice to be honest. They are a bit ugly." He added: "We have had quite a lot of maintenance done. The buildings are so old they are probably going to need changing soon anyway."

There are currently at least 12 empty shop premises in Park Place. One shopper said: "I would be glad to see the buildings pulled down and a new development built in their place. They don't add anything to the town's appeal and are largely empty. The development would help the town's economy as it would attract more businesses."

Stevenage Borough Council member Simon Speller, a former town planner, told The Comet: "I would have to say, if someone came in with a really good scheme, there aren't that many features in that town centre I would feel I would need to protect.

"On the other hand, it could be considered an act of vandalism to just get rid of what symbolises a brave new world of the Fifties."

The council had also received a petition signed by 814 patients of Stevenage Orthodontics and Stevenage Dental Practice in Park Place, with concern expressed that appropriate arrangements had not been made to relocate this service.

The committee refused planning permission on the grounds that unsatisfactory arrangements for residents' parking had been made, that the proposal represented an overdevelopment of the site which would be out of keeping with the character of the surrounding area, and that the provision of affordable housing was unacceptable.

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