One of the few undeveloped blocks left at Kelham Island is the old Williams Brothers on Green Lane. Admittedly it’s not the prettiest of buildings but nevertheless has some historic value and its own crucible. Plans were approved last year for 3 new 4/5 storey linked blocks on the site plus restoration of the existing building. This would give a grand total of 138 residential apartments plus 658 sq m of office space, plus 24 car parking spaces.
However, an application has now been made under Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to vary the conditions of the planning permission. The effect of this is that new planning permission can be issued with this alongside the existing. Surely this cannot be allowed in this instance as it is proposed to demolish the façade which was to have been retained. They are saying that it is unsafe and unfortunately the Highways Dept are saying that they are not prepared to allow a road closure to enable repairs to be made. Their solution? – to bring in a grabber and demolish it! The original bricks will be lost or damaged and the only way to do this properly is to hand demolish it and number all the bricks. Even then it will not be quite the same as the original and it really needs another opinion. Historic England are not on the case yet and it really needs their structural engineer to take a look and hopefully come up with a solution.
It is important that this building is sensitively restored as near as possible to its original format as the streetscape in Kelham has such a wonderful atmospheric feel to it and this could so easily be ruined by one bad decision.
When we went to visit the site to take the accompanying photographs – here was the sight that met us. The grabber has done its work. We’ve not bothered to change the article but left it as proof as to how situations can change overnight and how we must be vigilant regarding our built heritage.