Scarborough Council approves demolition of former Conservative Club despite heritage opposition
The Victorian Society has objected strongly to the approved total demolition of the former Scarborough Conservative Club on Huntriss Row.
The Victorian civic building is part of the Scarborough Conservation Area which is already listed on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ Register. The demolition will make way for an extension to the Premier Inn which lies at the rear of the site.
The former Constitutional Club was erected in 1888 by prominent architect Henry Arthur Cheers. It is described in the Buildings of England as a ‘picturesque’ construction and the polychromatic brickwork on the façade and bold mullioned windows make it an attractive asset to the Conservation Area.
As well as being aesthetically valuable to the area, the building is also of historical value. From its Victorian roots it went on to become the Scarborough Conservative Club, and the double ‘C’ letters are still visible in the door spandrel of the principal façade.
The building has been under threat of partial demolition for several years; it was originally thought that the prominent façade of the building would remain, but developers have recently come back with the argument that rising costs make the original scheme unviable.
Despite the collapse of this original scheme, which would still have resulted in much of the original architecture being removed, the Council has shocked heritage groups and local citizens alike by granting full planning permission to the Premier Inn developers.
Both Historic England and the Victorian Society have objected strongly to the demolition. James Hughes, Senior Conservation Adviser at the Victorian Society, argues that it “would deprive the town of one of its finer and more interesting historic buildings, and would cause substantial, unjustified and irreversible harm to the significance of the Scarborough Conservation Area”.
Kerry Babington, Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas at Historic England, also opposes the scheme and argues that ‘the application [for demolition] contains insufficient information to demonstrate that total demolition is the only option for the future use of this site in the conservation area”.
Heritage groups argue that by approving the demolition, the council is conflicting with the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 which obliges the Council to pay special attention to the desirability that any development preserves or enhances the conservation area. If Scarborough council are approving the demolition of culturally significant buildings such as this, it calls into question the future of Scarborough’s historically rich landscape.
A listing application is currently under consideration, supported by the Victorian Society.
Thursday 8 December, 2016