Derbyshire Dales councillors reject plans to convert iconic former Matlock bank building into new homes
Plans to build apartment blocks on the historic site of a former bank in Matlock have been promptly rejected.
London-based firm Oxygen 56 had been behind the proposed plans for the iconic former RBS bank in Snitterton Road.
It had hoped to turn the Grade-II listed Bank House into apartments and to build two three-storey blocks of apartments next to it.
However, councillors agreed with planning officers that the proposed design was out of character with the area and would damage the heritage of the site and unanimously rejected it on June 29, after a concise debate.
Before the meeting, officers had compiled an extensive report confirming that they were recommending refusal due to the new buildings representing “adverse architectural competitors” to the historic former bank.
They said the modern three-storey new builds were “architectural interlopers that would be deemed inappropriate for this particular site” and “neither preserve nor enhance the Conservation Area”.
Cllr Garry Purdy told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I questioned the officers involvement with the applicants and they said they had given a great deal of advice given to them (the applicant) and they have not taken any notice.
“What we were concerned about is that they wanted to knock down a part of the heritage of the old bank and what they were intending to replace it with our officers were not happy with at all, they wanted something more in keeping with the heritage asset.”
Cllr Richard FitzHerbert, the council’s heritage champion, said the applicants needed to bring forward plans which are in keeping with that specific area of Matlock in full view from Derwent Way.
Cllr Purdy told the LDRS: “I would appeal for them to try again, if at first succeed, try again. We want that part of Matlock to be developed because, unfortunately, since the banks have left towns that bit is an eyesore and it needs proper remediation.”
Council officers said “very little advice” given to the applicants had been taken on board and there had been no “breakthrough” resulting in changed designs.
They feel the extension to the current bank building has merit and are not as “damning” as the applicants about its worth.
Cllr Clare Gamble said the current design is “overbearing” while Cllr Peter Slack said: “Derbyshire Dales has the highest house prices in Derbyshire and therefore people coming in from the outside force the local people out and we need affordable housing.”
A statement written by Evans Vettori, on behalf of the applicants, had said: “There could be some perceived harm to the intrinsic character and beauty of the site, its listing and landscape.
“The scheme however looks to rectify the majority of the damage that the building and the site has endured in the past, replacing unsightly additions to the existing building and site, with well detailed appropriate and separate elements and repairing internal and external damage to the original fabric.
“Allowing this development will bring forward a portion of the district’s housing supply. This will contribute to houses specifically aimed at the elderly – for which there is a great need in the district.
“The site is a sustainable location for housing, as identified in the adopted Local Plan through its designation as a site for housing. Furthermore, its proximity to amenities, local transport networks and employment combine to demonstrate that this is a sustainable location for development.”
The scheme would have entailed a total of 22 apartments, with four in the 18th century Bank House itself, along with changes to the historic property including new window and door openings. An extension arch to the building, built in the 1950s, was to be demolished.
A three-storey modern block, with a wide array of glass panelling and stone cladding, containing ten apartments, would be built next to it – facing onto Derwent Way.
A further three-storey block of eight apartments would be built to the rear of the site, further away from Derwent Way.
Council officers would like to see the extension to Bank House retained, but they claim the developer has said its retention would mean there is insufficient space for one of the new apartment blocks, making the scheme financially unviable.
Officers say the developer said: “The bank building conversion is heavily loss making and the rear block will have significant building costs being close to the railway.
“Therefore if the proposed block in a form to provide 10 units were not permitted then the whole scheme would not be viable.”