Restoration work on Cowe's site defended

Council chiefs have denied that there has been a breach of planning conditions on the redevelopment of the former Cowe buildings in Berwick.

Friday, 6th May 2016, 07:37 am
The former Cowe buildings on West Street, Berwick.

Town councillors have raised the issue with Northumberland County Council after concerns were aired by local residents.

Cllr Georgina Hill, speaking at the town council’s planning committee meeting, said: “I contacted Geoff Paul (director of planning and economy )and asked him to look at the work done on these iconic Grade II listed buildings and asked him whether it was a restoration or demolition project but he doesn’t consider there to have been a breach.

“I don’t know how they can call it restoration when they are just letting it fall down.”

Cllr Anne Forbes expressed concerns about the loss of a wall and the removal of a chimney.

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Cllr Karin Graham said she had raised similar concerns with conservation officer Annette Reeves.

Cllr Catherine Seymour, committee chairman, said: “They say they haven’t broken any regulations but my concern is that they went in and gutted it and did not take enough care.”

The buildings are being turned into a ground floor cafe with four flats.

A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “There has been no breach of planning control or listed building legislation in relation to the work on the Cowe buildings.

“Both principal buildings are Grade II listed and Arch submitted applications for both planning and listed building consent which were based on specialist structural reports and engineering advice and these were fully consulted on before they were approved by the council.

“The award of grant from the Townscape Heritage Initiative is also dependent on the statutory consents being in place and the work is being carried out in accordance with Heritage Lottery Fund grant criteria.

“The Blue Buildings require substantial structural repair due to their very poor condition and the building fronting Bridge Street is also being fully restored through the approved scheme. The rear ranges at the back that link to the curio shop need to be re-built as they have failed and are in a dangerous condition, and this is in accordance with approvals.

“The permissions allow for the boundary wall to West Street to be lowered and partially replaced by railings. The chimney had to be urgently taken down following a Prohibition Notice served by the Health and Safety Executive and this will also be re-built in accordance with the approved scheme.

“All work is being fully monitored by the THI Project Officer in close consultation with the Heritage Lottery Fund.”