Missing chimney halts flats plan for former newsagent's in Lincolnshire town
A BUILDING which has been vacant for six years will continue to lie empty after a planning application was refused because the developer had failed to retain a chimney.
Gary Batten from Spilsby has already decided he is going to appeal the refusal of listed building consent and planning permission to turn the former newsagent's in Market Place into flats.
The Grade II listed building has been vacant for a number of years but East Lindsey District Council claim Mr Batten carried out unauthorised work to it, including the removal of the chimney – a claim strongly refuted by Mr Batten.
His latest application has taken two years to put together. He wants to provide a new shop front and extensions for three flats.
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Planning Officer Paul Thomson said there were 'historical inaccuracies' with the proposed restoration of the building.
He said: "The door is not consistent with what you would expect in a conservation area or historic building. The chimney forms a prominent part of the conservation area. They are a feature of most of our historic market places. Lessening the quality of those areas will lessen the impact on their ability to compete."
Planning Team leader Chris Panton added: "The chimney helps form the streetscape and adds to the character of the conservation area. I think the loss of that chimney is a retrograde step for that building and Spilsby itself."
But Councillor Jim Swanson, from nearby Halton Holegate was the only councillor to support the application.
He said: "What is the benefit of a chimney to the community? How does the absence of a chimney affect the vitality of the town? I support bringing the building back as an asset to the community in some form."
Councillor Neil Cooper chairman of the planning committee said he is disappointed that two years since the last application, they are no further on.
He said: "We sent a clear instruction to resolve the issues and get the place sorted out and clearly that has not happened. Time has been wasted and I do hope the applicant will now enter discussions with the planning authority to find a scheme to be recommended for approval in the future."
Mr Batten told the Target he believes the application was presented negatively and added his artist commissioned impressions of how the building will look were not shown.
He said: "The committee should have been discussing the need to replace the chimney against the substantial restoration which was proposed and I have no doubt if a more positive and constructive spin had been put on things then the outcome would have been to pass the application."