25th Sep, 2018

Plans for new High Street bank withdrawn amid heritage protection concerns

Felix Nobes 21st May, 2018

CONTROVERSIAL plans to demolish a building in Solihull’s High Street to make way for a bank have been withdrawn amid concerns from national conservation watchdog Historic England.

An agenda report by Solihull council’s head of development management, James Carpenter, was to recommend councillors at last Wednesday’s planning committee (May 16) refuse the application submitted by Metro Bank.

But the planning application was withdrawn by the applicants just before the committee meeting.

Mr Carpenter’s report had shared Historic England’s concerns it would cause harm to the area’s historic setting.

The building at 119 and 121 High Street is part of the 1960s shopping development and is not listed.

But the officer’s report stated it has some architectural merit and its position in the Solihull Conservation Area made it a heritage asset.

The proposed new building would cause significant harm to the grade II* listed 15th Century Manor House among other listed medieval buildings on the High Street protected by the conservation area, the report concludes.

The building is currently an H Samuel jewellers and sits opposite the Manor House, which is used as a tearoom.

Elsewhere on the street, 116, 118 and 120 High Street are listed grade II and dated 1571.

Historic England said the harm caused by the proposed development would outweigh the social and economic benefits of the new bank.

Planning committee member, councillor Jim Ryan, said it was of the ‘utmost importance’ for the council to preserve heritage for future generations.

Coun Ryan added: “I have been a councillor for 40 years and I can tell you, without hesitation, that Solihull is very proactive in protecting its historic buildings.

“I think we are one of the best local authorities in the country at protecting ancient monuments and listed buildings and for anything to do with conservation.

“Applicants need to be conscious of the conservation area and that Solihull has a high standard of architecture.

“In terms of any new development, it has to fit in and it has to be a building that projects the image of Solihull.”

Mr Carpenter’s report concluded: “It is not considered that the social and economic benefits of the scheme are sufficient to outbalance the identified harm to the significance of heritage assets.

“Considerable importance and weight should be given to the desirability of preserving the setting of listed buildings.”

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