Thursday, 15 August 2013

Good news from Northampton as attempt to delist 1836 St Edmund's Hospital fails

From the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, 8 August 2013

The Government has refused to delist Northampton’s historic St Edmund’s Hospital building. Earlier this year, an unknown organisation applied to English Heritage to remove the historic building’s listed status - leading to fears it could one day be demolished.

But now, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has said the listed status should not be removed, meaning the 176-year-old building in Wellingborough Road cannot be knocked down without specific listed building consent. The move has been welcomed by officials at English Heritage, who advised the Government that the building should be protected for the future. 

A spokesman for English Heritage said: “We’re pleased the Government has agreed with our recommendation to keep St Edmund’s Hospital in Northampton on the statutory List. Built in 1836-7, it was one of the first generation of New Poor Law workhouses, designed by the eminent Victorian architect George Gilbert Scott, and it represents a key moment in changing social attitudes towards the provision made for the poor and destitute. “

The main hospital building has stood derelict since 1999 despite a Tesco and a restaurant being built on neighbouring parts of the former hospital site.

Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Tim Hadland (Con, Old Duston) said the authority would now work with the site’s owners to get the hospital redeveloped. He said: “We welcome the decision of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to retain St Edmund’s Hospital on the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. Owning a listed building comes with a duty to protect it, so we will continue to talk with the landowners about their plans and how they can bring the site back into use.”

St Edmund’s Hospital was built in 1836 as a workhouse and was converted into a hospital in the 1930s, before closing in 1999.

Character of our village 'will be ruined by tourism scheme'

A major tourism development in an East Riding estate village will spoil the old-fashioned character which makes it special, residents claim.

Sledmere Estate wants to convert a complex of 180-year-old farmbuildings on the estate which serves Sledmere House, which is open to the public, into a range of new facilities, including a larger art gallery, café, restaurant, garden centre and farm shop.

As part of the plans walled paddocks at Home Farm would be converted into parking and a former barn and kennels into a tourist office and bicycle hire point.

Other buildings would be converted to create more space for the Triton Gallery and the former estate sawmill converted to a garden centre.

The Grade I listed Georgian country house, set within a park landscaped by Capability Brown, is in a village where the last houses were built in the 1950s and parish councillors are worried that the main road will be urbanised, with signs and a zebra crossing outside the main entrance to Sledmere House on the “highly scenic” B1253.

The council is also unhappy about putting parking on the green field bloodstock paddocks which once formed part of the famous Sledmere Stud.

A letter from the parish council objecting said: “The residents of Sledmere are very accepting of the fact that we are a ‘public’ village during the summer months but look forward to the quieter winter period when Sledmere House is closed to the public and we get ‘our’ village back to ourselves. We would resist any development being open throughout the year.”

Another added: “To most people the attraction of Sledmere is that it is a village that has changed so little over the years. This aspect of ‘going back in time’ when passing through the village helps to keep Sledmere special.”

The Georgian Group described the proposals for the paddocks as “extremely insensitive”. English Heritage and the council conservation officer now support the plans, following alterations. But English Heritage did say they regretted the new zebra crossing – needed on health and safety grounds – as it would “harm the rural and informal character of the streetscape.”

However the estate says the development will create eight full-time jobs in the first phase and will provide benefits to the wider economy, with an increase in visitors, new jobs, a knock-on for the local supply chain and “ultimately and very importantly the continued prosperity of Sledmere Estate”.

Planners agree and are recommending approval at a meeting next week. The plans will then go to the Secretary of State for a final decision.

They say the extra facilities “will no doubt mean increased traffic, visitor numbers and an extension of the tourist season and this will have an impact on some residents. This has to be balanced against the positive benefits that will accrue including local employment and to other businesses Overall and on balance it is considered the benefits of the proposal outweigh the potential negative impact on the village.”

(Yorkshire Post, 5 August 2013)