Thursday, 13 December 2012

Co-op façade saved.

On December 12 the City Council’s planning committee overwhelmingly approved an application from a private company to demolish the rear of the former department store, preserve the frontage and construct accommodation for 351 students behind.

For many years since the CWS departed there were hopes that the store would be taken over by some other prestige company and pressed back into the use for which it was designed, so being a catalyst for the rejuvenation of the whole London Road area.  Apparently the big retailers had more sense and the present plans for student housing were the only financially viable proposals to materialise. Hope of saving the building as a whole must now be consigned to history.

In December 2011, the planners turned down an application to demolish the whole building and construct a larger student residence with over 400 rooms.  Reasons cited at the time included overdevelopment and loss of an un-designated heritage asset. So this latest decision is seen as a positive result for the building which was added to the local heritage list in March this year. Chair of the planning committee Cllr Christopher Hawtree said:  “It’s a victory for our stance against boil-in-the-bag architecture which often sees our distinctive buildings replaced by developers serving up easy, bland designs.

It maybe that under the circumstances it is the poor best that can be hoped for. It however does nothing however for the reputation of the architectural profession. Because of its failure to produce a design that at least matched the authority, confidence and elegance of the original, posterity will only inherit a kind of cobbled-together chimaera of a building.

London road Co-op and the 'Local List'
Council turns down Co-op proposals
Redevelopment of the London Road Co-op

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