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Hereford Fire Station Planning Application


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Is it no surprise that all the Council's department consultees can find no merit in supporting the refusal of the relocation of the fire station: You get the real feeling it is going to be a great big stitch up.

 

Economic Development Team:

 

From an economic perspective; we feel that on balance that we support application (P142554/F), on the grounds that; 

 

(1) Evidence suggests a current supply of office space in Hereford City Centre, of 9,459.26 Sqm. 

 

(2) There is currently no indication of demand for a large office based development and although the building, at 1,509 Sqm, is a flexible size, the age and configuration of the property means that it is not Ideally suitable for modern office accommodation. 

 

In addition, given the nature of neighbouring mixed uses and the current configuration of units on the site, we feel that, if the site was to be retained for Bl use, there is almost certainly the need for the future redevelopment of the building. It is therefore questionable whether or not any new Bl use, would be proportionate to the current surrounding area.

 

(3) The proposal will help remove the applicant's existing constraints placed on St Owens site. 

 

(4) The proposal will assist in safeguarding jobs for their existing workforce. 

 

(5) The proposal will bring a vacant site back to operational use. 

 

What about some small start up units linked with housing? What class use is a fire station? There is no threat to existing workforce as the jobs already exist.

 

 

Environmental Health and Trading Standards

 

Comments 

I would take this opportunity to make the following observations on this application: 

 

1. Plant noise - The Noise assessment recommends noise limits for plant noise and advises that the night time noise limit is very low and that careful consideration will be required to the selection of any plant that will be required to operate at night. I would further add that this care should be given not just to the sound power levels of plant but also to any characteristic of the noise generated such as a distinguishable, discrete, continuous note (whine, screech, hiss, hum etc.,) and to the existence of any distinct impulses (bangs, clicks, clatters or thumps) 

 

I would recommend that should it be minded to grant permission that a condition is attached requiring prior approval of any such plant. 

 

2. Activity noise - It has to recognised that there will be some noise /disturbance caused by activity noise, noise such as vehicle sirens, drills etc. I would comment that such noise is of a relatively short duration and that this area is currently subject to considerable noise from road traffic, passing emergency vehicle sirens etc. and that if this activity noise is kept to an operational minimum, particularly at night, I would not expect it to be the cause of concern 

to local residents. 

 

So its ok to add to the noise and the implication that there will be noise at night.

 

 

Julian Cotton, Archaeological Advisor, Herefordshire Council 

 

* In summary, I see no compelling archaeological reason why the development should not proceed here, subject of course to suitable archaeological recording as mitigation. This recording should encompass all above and below ground items that might be of interest. 

 

Therefore, in line with 'saved' Policy ARCH6 of the Hereford Unitary Development Plan, and para 141 of the NPPF, I have no objections. I would advise the attachment of standard archaeological condition E02 to any permission granted 

 

 

Internal Ecology Consultee: Dr. Rob Widdicombe

 

If given approval I recommend that the decision is accompanied by a non-standard condition for compilation and submission for approval of a habitat and species enhancement plan as follows:

 


Prior to commencement of the development, a habitat enhancement plan integrated with the landscape proposals should be submitted to, and be approved in writing by, the local planning authority. The plan should incorporate compensation for loss of nest sites for nesting birds with provision for bats and the work shall be implemented as approved.

 

An appropriately qualified and experienced ecological clerk of works should be appointed (or consultant engaged in that capacity) to oversee the ecological mitigation work.

 

Are nest boxes to be attached to the training tower?

 


Reasons:

To ensure that all species are protected having regard to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and Policies NC1, NC6 and NC7 of the Herefordshire Unitary Development Plan

 

To comply with Policies NC8 and NC9 of Herefordshire’s Unitary Development Plan in relation to Nature Conservation and Biodiversity and to meet the requirements of the NPPF and the NERC Act 2006

 

 

Hereford City Council (Parish Council)

 

Decision:

We have no objection in principle and appreciate the need for new Fire Station in Hereford; however, we regret the loss of Bath Street building and think it’s unfortunate to locate the Fire Station on such prominent site in the City.

 

Are they saying they know the building is coming down?

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I spoke with a guy from the new university earlier & I ask him wot buildings had the council offered them?…his reply was they have said they can have the franklin barns building no other building has been offered?…even more reason why the old boys home should not be demolished as it would be fantastic to have that as a uni building?!

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I noticed today that the car park in and around the site was rammed full of cars - 100 or more - even though the building is empty - presumably all council employees on freebie car parking. Where will all these vehicles go to?

 

I also note little mention has been made of the Barrs Court School in Symonds Street, which backs onto the site. This serves young people aged 11-19 all of whom have a range of complex learning difficulties and disabilities, many of which will be exacerbated by noise, such as that from fire drills in the 4 stroey steel training tower which is just yards from their buildings.

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24 September 2014 Council News:

 

"In association with the proposed Link Road, the council is also looking to take forward proposals for a new transport hub and to improve other highways in the area. The road construction and improvements to the surrounding highway infrastructure is being funded from the government’s Growth Deal with £12m allocated to the Edgar Street to Commercial Road Link scheme".

 

So the Commercial Road site could become vacant very soon.

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​25 September 2014 ​

 

Dear Mr Thomas

 

Notifications under Circular 01/2001, Circular 08/2009 &

T&CP (Development Management Procedure) Order 2010

 

HEREFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL OFFICES, BATH STREET, HEREFORD, HR1 2HQ

Application No P142554/F

 

Thank you for your letter of 29 August 2014 notifying English Heritage of the above application.

 

Summary

The council offices on Bath Street were originally constructed as the Hereford and district working boys home and industrial school. The school represents an important part of the social history of 19th century Hereford and is a standing reminder of the local philanthropic movement of this period. This architecturally pleasing building is of local architectural interest. The proposal will see the total loss of the former boys home and see its replacement with a new fire station. The building is unlisted, but is situated within the Hereford Central Area conservation area, a designated heritage asset. English Heritage objects to this application that would see the total loss of an undesignated heritage asset, which makes as positive contribution to the significance of the conservation area. The loss of this building would cause harm to the designated heritage asset. We remain unconvinced that a clear and convincing justification has been put forward to justify the proposals and it is our view that an alternative site would be able to provide the public benefits proposed by the applicant. As a building of local architectural and historic interest we believe it is worthy of preservation through adaptation to a suitable alternative use.

 

English Heritage Advice

The council offices on Bath Street were originally constructed as the Hereford and district working boys home and industrial school. The boys home was established in 1874 by Arthur Grenville Levason. The school moved to the purpose-built building on land, sold for that purpose, by the Hereford Society for Aiding the Industrious, which had been founded by the Reverend John Venn. The school was constructed and developed in three phases; the central block being first, constructed in 1876 to the designs of George Haddon. The school was then extended to the rear and east in 1886 to from a two-storey cross wing, north block, infirmary and laundry designed by William Chick (later Cheiake). Further additions were added and in 1895 a south wing was created to form the Meadows Memorial Hall and in 1902 a link building between the central and north wings that included a carriage entrance. The later additions were designed by G H Godsell in late-C19 board school and Palladian style respectively. The school was closed in 1933 and converted in 1934 to council offices and was used as such until the Council’s departure from the site.

 

The school represents an important part of the social history of 19th century Hereford and is a standing reminder of the local philanthropic movement of this period. This architecturally pleasing building is of local architectural interest having been designed by three well-known local 19th century architects and is of an architectural quality that contributes to the townscape of the city.

 

The proposal will see the total loss of the former boys home and see its replacement with a new fire station. The building is unlisted, but is situated within the Hereford Central Area conservation area, a designated heritage asset.

 

English Heritage is concerned by the proposed loss of the former boys home and objects to the application for the following reasons;

 

The former boys home, although not sufficiently intact or unaltered as to be granted listed status, is still clearly of local architectural and historic interest and as such we consider it to be an undesignated heritage asset in its own right.

 

The building occupies a prominent site on Bath Street set back from the road, with its fine square cupola appearing in central view upon turning from the A438 into Bath Street. Its mixture of roof lines, gabled windows, dormers and brickwork detailing, provides an aesthetically pleasing architectural landmark to Bath Street and to this part of the city beyond the medieval city walls which in no doubt forms part of the townscape making a positive contribution to this part of the conservation area.

 

The applicant provides no information or evidence of the building having been openly marketed and we are not aware of any attempt to try and secure a suitable alternative use for the building that will enable its conservation. It is our view that the building is capable of sensitive adaption to a variety of uses that could secure the buildings future and see it retained with the potential to enhance the appearance of the conservation area.

 

Whist we are sympathetic to and understand that there are valid practical and functional reasons that determine a fire station’s appearance. We do not however accept that the proposed building either preserves or enhances the character or appearance of the conservation area and we therefore believe this demonstrates the former boys home is not the most suitable site for the proposed new fire station. We are also unconvinced that the search for alternative sites within the city and surrounding area has been exhaustive and we urge the applicant to undertake further investigations, in consultation with the local authority, to identify and re-evaluate possible locations for a new fire station.

 

As the application affects a conservation area, the statutory requirement to pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the conservation area (s.72, 1990 Act) must be taken into account by your authority when making its decision.

 

Under the NPPF it is a core planning principle to conserve heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance, so that they can be enjoyed for their contribution to the quality of life of this and future generations (para.17 NPPF). When considering the impact of a proposed development on the significance of a designated heritage asset, great weight should be given to the asset’s conservation. The more important the asset, the greater the weight should be. Significance can be harmed or lost through alteration or destruction of the heritage asset or development within its setting. As heritage assets are irreplaceable, any harm or loss should require clear and convincing justification (para.132, NPPF). The onus is therefore on you to rigorously test the necessity of any harmful works.

 

The effect of an application on the significance of a non-designated heritage asset should be taken into account in determining the application. In weighting applications that affect directly or indirectly non designated heritage assets, a balanced judgement will be required having regard to the scale of any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset (para.135 NPPF).

 

Loss of a building (or other element) which makes a positive contribution to the significance of a conservation area should be treated either as substantial harm or less than substantial harm under paragraphs 133 and 134 of the NPPF as appropriate, taking into account the relative significance of the element affected and its contribution to the significance of the Conservation Area as a whole (para.138 NPPF).

 

Permission should be refused because of concerns about incompatibility of development with an existing townscape, where the concern relates to a designated heritage asset and the impact would cause material harm to the asset or its setting which is not outweighed by the proposal’s economic, social and environmental benefits (para.65 NPPF).

 

Recommendation

English Heritage objects to this application as it would see the total loss of an undesignated heritage asset, a building which makes a positive contribution to the significance of the conservation area. The loss of this building would cause harm to the significance of this part of the conservation area. We remain unconvinced that a clear and convincing justification has been put forward to warrant the proposals and it is our view that an alternative site would be able to provide the public benefits as proposed by the applicant. English Heritage therefore recommends that the application is refused and encourages the council to market the site in order to find a suitable alternative use that will enable the retention of a building of local architectural and historic interest.

 

We would welcome the opportunity of advising further. Please consult us again if any additional information or amendments are submitted. If, notwithstanding our advice, you propose to approve the scheme in its present form, please advise us of the date of the committee and send us a copy of your report at the earliest opportunity.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Ross Brazier

Assistant Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas

E-mail: ross.brazier@english-heritage.org.uk

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Cambo , well done to receive this positive supporting reply from English Heritage - EH have included so many reason why this application should be refused and has got to make the decision makers think that they should look further than Bath St , I sincerly hope .

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Recommendation

English Heritage objects to this application as it would see the total loss of an undesignated heritage asset, a building which makes a positive contribution to the significance of the conservation area. The loss of this building would cause harm to the significance of this part of the conservation area. We remain unconvinced that a clear and convincing justification has been put forward to warrant the proposals and it is our view that an alternative site would be able to provide the public benefits as proposed by the applicant. English Heritage therefore recommends that the application is refused and encourages the council to market the site in order to find a suitable alternative use that will enable the retention of a building of local architectural and historic interest.

 

Well that would normally kill any application stone dead - but here we have the council voting on land that they own, on a scheme they've jointly cobbled together with the Fire Brigade, with some councillors on the expenses gravy train of serving both parties, so normal rules of fairness and openness will probably be put to one side.

 

I reiterate the reply to my question to one of the suited reps at the consultation - if a better site was likely to become available in the next couple of years (ie the bus station), would you wait? Yes, definitely, was his reply. He was also adamant that they would not do a joint scheme with the Police. Perhaps they have deliberately put in a diabolical scheme to get a refusal, to get the council off their backs for a while - stranger things have happened in public service.

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Cambo , well done to receive this positive supporting reply from English Heritage - EH have included so many reason why this application should be refused and has got to make the decision makers think that they should look further than Bath St , I sincerly hope .

I hope so to ubique

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Excellent objection from English Heritage telling the Council that just because the Working Boys' Home would not be listed, the Working Boys' Home still remains a key heritage asset within a Conservation Area. Maybe our councillors will think a bit more outside the box when it comes up at the Planning Committee.

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MEMBER QUESTIONS TO COUNCIL – 26 SEPTEMBER 2014

 

Question from Councillor ACR Chappell

 

Question 2: Bath Street

With reference to the recent decision to dispose of the Bath Street site can the Cabinet Member confirm:

 

a) Before the decision was taken, what other sites were investigated?

 

b) With the Cabinet supporting the Southern Relief road, what consideration was given to providing a site, through developers money, for a joint emergency services centre on the line of the Rotherwas access road and Southern Relief road?

 

c) With a 1000 homes due to be built up against the access road and increasing development at Rotherwas, and the intention of continuing these roads to form part of the by-pass, why was Bath Street handed to the Fire Authority?

 

d) The Bath Street site, the ambulance station site in Ross Road and the present fire station site, provide enough space for 300 homes, thus relieving green field space from development. Will the Cabinet member re-consider his agreement with the Fire Authority?

 

 

Answer from Councillor H Bramer Cabinet Member Contracts & Assets

 

The Fire & Rescue Service (FRS), who are the lead on this project, will be able to advise what other sites they investigated; however it is understood that the Bath Street site has been demonstrated to be the best possible site to serve the city from a fire and rescue point of view. This was validated by response modelling and a sequential test of options.

 

The decision to dispose of the site, taken in April, (report available on the council website at http://councillors.herefordshire.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=2683), was in line with the council’s agreed accommodation strategy, having been declared surplus to operational needs.

 

The agreement the council has reached with the FRS provides the opportunity for a land swap deal whereby the FRS develop the existing Bath Street site, demolish the buildings and hand part of it back to the council for business user car parking for children’s safeguarding staff. In return the council will receive the existing FRS site levelled to the ground. The council will then be able to dispose of this site at will.

 

The council will continue to work with developers and other partners to identify suitable sites to meet all the needs of the county whether housing, employment or maintaining  essential emergency services.

 

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The below is part of the reply I received from my Cllr - as I posted earlier -it's a done deal - not the correct decision but a done deal. When one reads some of the replies that Cambo received from Cllrs one guessed that the result was tablets of stone and nothing would or has changed their minds , thought that Cllr the Brig. Jones was quite snappy in his reply , easy decision when you are on the H and W Fire and Rescue Committee drawing very good expenses ! My Cllr is not happy with what is happening but I am not realy sure what the opposition to this planning application can do ?

 

Dear UBIQUE

 

" ................and the cabinet member has said that he will not change his mind over decision; is this predermination of a planning application?

 

To destroy this building with such historic merit is disgraceful. I do not believe that there has been an exhaustive research into alternative sites.

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He makes me laugh does old Harry bramer the snake!

Does he seriously believe that we are going to swallow anything he says? The fire service are the lead on this project… pushed by the hand of Harry more like!!

The decision was reached long before April too as we all know he just had to get his mates to agree to it.

Fancy trying to justify his ridiculous decision by saying it demonstrates the best possible location! Yet he doesn't seem to know wot other sites HWFRS investigated?! did he not read there feasibility report? If he didn't? then he should of & if he did? he must be lying as to not knowing the location of the other sites?

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My supplementary question to Cllr Bramer was to ask if now the building of the link road has been confirmed, would he talk to the Crime & Police Commissioner about using the police sports field at the end of Widemarsh Street for the fire station. You will not be surprised that the answer is No. Harry seems to be rather bad tempered recently, do't know why!

 

The saving of Bath Street is important, I pointed out to Harry that most people in the City hold that view. I think that the Planning Committee will need to use their collective skills to ensure that the application goes to the Secretary of State for decision. This will mean a delay of some months, a appeal before that to the planning inspectorate, where the public will get a say. A delay might take us to May when an incoming Council can resind the decision. I told Cllr Bramer that there is no hurry for a new fire station and that he is not looking far enough ahead. In ten, twenty five years time Hereford will look very different and the by- pass will allow for the emergency services to move with speed rather than being based in the centre of Hereford. Wish I were still on the Planning Committee!

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@ Denise.  Re your post about later objections - and given that the cabinet seems to have left itself plenty of wriggle room - I would strongly urge you to get any friends, neighbours, acquaintances, even total strangers you meet on the bus, to bang in an objection.  Councillor Hubbard has had it officially confirmed to him by no less an authority than Andrew Ashcroft that any planning committee anywhere in the country has an obligation to take account of any letters of objection (or support) received right up to the morning of the meeting.

 

Herefordshire Council planning committe's officer has confirmed that November is the earliest that P142554/F is likely to be considered, so to all those who breathed a sigh of relief on reading English Heritage's uncharistically-trenchant attack, I'd say: get scribbling!

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@ Denise.  Re your post about later objections - and given that the cabinet seems to have left itself plenty of wriggle room - I would strongly urge you to get any friends, neighbours, acquaintances, even total strangers you meet on the bus, to bang in an objection.  Councillor Hubbard has had it officially confirmed to him by no less an authority than Andrew Ashcroft that any planning committee anywhere in the country has an obligation to take account of any letters of objection (or support) received right up to the morning of the meeting.

 

Herefordshire Council planning committe's officer has confirmed that November is the earliest that P142554/F is likely to be considered, so to all those who breathed a sigh of relief on reading English Heritage's uncharistically-trenchant attack, I'd say: get scribbling!

 
Councils always request comments within a time limit (usually within 21 days of notification), but in practice they will take into account any representations received before the application is actually determined. So it is not too late to comment provided a planning permission has not actually been issued. On the other hand, it is obviously best to make your views known as early as possible. 
 
More useful information on this site concerning planning law and processes.
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