|July 6, 2012|
|August 30, 2012|
Previously on Abbeylands I wrote about the plans for the Abbey Church to be converted into a 5 bedroom, 3 story home. Listed Building Consent was refused earlier this year. At exactly the time I was writing, the architect Grahame Armet submitted an appeal (3 June 2012). The substance of Armet’s appeal is that planning took too narrow a view of the proposed development. Armet states that the decision was framed narrowly within the confines of Policy ENV3 and Policy ENV4 1 and preconceptions of what the development should have looked like. I paraphrase here, but I think he is saying that a proposal that left the exterior unaltered would have got the the thumbs up and that decision makers are locked into a view that Dunbar is a provincial town where modern interpretations and change have no place. Armet quotes Scottish Planning Policy guidance in support of his case:
SPP Para. 111 – “the historic environment can accommodate change which is informed and sensitively managed, and can be adapted to accommodate new uses whilst retaining its special character”
Armet states also that any consideration of the future viability of this building was missing let alone the wider implications for this end of the High Street, were it to fall further into disrepair.
The supporting documents make a number of other detailed points (see link below). One of these is that Historic Scotland’s own guidance provides a number of additional tests that could have been invoked. Armet explains first, that this application was not a complete demolition, rather the removal of building fabric that was mostly beyond repair, which is for all intents and purposes “derelict”. But he then goes on to say that Historic Scotland applies four tests to demolition requests, one of which seems particularly relevant:
the repair of the building is not economically viable and that it has been marketed at a price reflecting its location and condition to potential restoring purchasers for a reasonable period.
It would seem that Armet would like to see this last test applied to the partial demolition, or downtakings as they are euphemistically referred to the planner’s report.
Armet also states that planners and HS did not adequately consult and seek architectural advice (architectural historians are rather scathing of the Hamilton’s alleged contribution to the church). There is a view that all listed building are “of special architectural or historic interest” Joe Rock‘s book on the prolific architect Thomas Hamilton.
The church at Dunbar on the prime site at the end of the High Street suffers from the same polished façade but there is the added problem of a weak design. The pinnacle-cum spire fails to perform either of those functions well and there is a conflict between the horizontal emphasis and the vertical, a recurrent problem in Hamilton’s church designs.
Which loosely translates, the church was a bit of an ugly fudge.
There will be a public meeting, though the public will not be permitted to speak. However if you would like to make representations, you are free to do so within 14 days or the 6th July.
This is the email that I received today:
Planning Application No 11/00704/P – Derelict Church Converted to a 5 Bedroom House and Walled Garden at Abbey Church, Dunbar
As an Interested Party to the above planning application, you are entitled to be informed of this Notice of Review, which is available to view on East Lothian Council’s website at:
Please note that any representation previously made will be considered by the Local Review Body when determining the review. However, if you wish to make any further representation, please note that this should be done within 14 days of the date above.
Documents relating to this application will be available for inspection at the Environment Reception desk, John Muir House, Haddington approximately 7 days prior to the meeting.
The Local Review Body will meet on Thursday 30 August 2012 at the Council Chamber in Haddington at 2pm to consider this application. This will be a public meeting, however, please note that there will be no opportunity to address the Local Review Body. The Decision Notice will be posted on the website within 21 days of the meeting.
Direct Line: 01620 827249
To view all the documents search for 11/00704/P (planning documents) AND 11/00704/LBC (Listed building consent) here:
I’ve added some before and after shots, which highlight the visual impact from a pedestrian’s perspective.
- The Local Adopted Plan is here. ENV3 states (1) The external or internal alteration of a Listed Building will only be permitted where it does not harm the architectural or historic character of the building; (2) The demolition of a Listed Building will not be permitted unless there are overriding environmental or practical reasons. It must be satisfactorily demonstrated that every effort has been made to continue the present use or to find a suitable new use; (3) New development that harms the setting of a Listed Building will not be permitted. It is moot whether the development would be harmful, it would certainly impose some changes. 2 just transposes SHEP guidance. ENV4 merely rehearses the usual constraints and permitted development in a Conservation Area ↩
- This is of course true. Here’s what HS say: “Many buildings are of interest, architecturally or historically, but for the purposes of designation this interest must be ‘special’. (However) to merit designation the property must satisfy set criteria which are used to distinguish this significance.” While I’ve not see anything apart from the building listing description that justifies its special interest, this is fairly common with all listed buildings – the justification is assumed by dint of the designation. In nature conservation the SSSI designation came under intense scrutiny in the late 80s and 90s when site documentation was found wanting, which is not to say the designations were necessarily incorrect – but that the designation process and criteria lacked the rigour necessary for objective decisions. ↩