To my great disappointment, I noticed today that this development has commenced (see photos attached), notwithstanding that the existing consent (08/02123/F) lapsed in January 2012. (The decision notice is at http://iclipseweb.cherwell.gov.uk/AnitePublicDocs/05350923.pdf - I was mistaken in believing previously that the existing consent was for five years).
All internal walls have been substantially removed, the shopfront has gone and all windows at the rear have been removed. So far it apperas that much of the fabric removed so far has not been historic, save for one of the delightful Georgian sash windows on the front elevation. The roof and the rest of the Georgian windows at the front are currentlty still in-situ, although unless enforcement action is taken immediately, these will surely follow, quite possibly as early as Monday morning.
HSE may also want to have a look at the internal working environment, which from the outside looks rather irregular. I think it is likely that CDM is not being properly complied with.
Not only has the debveloper commenced this development well over a year after the consent for it has expired, I presume from the lack of any relevant paperwork on the website that none of the three essential pre-conditions (windows, juliette balconies, shopfront and external finishes) were ever discharged.
The developers quite clearly believe that either the renewal of the lapsed consent is a given and they have no need to wait for it, or they are hoping to do so much damage as they can as quickly as possible, in the hope that this makes it impossible for the council to refuse the renewal of the expited consent.
Please can the Council take immediate enforcement action to put all works of demolition and development on immediate hold, pending the planning situation (and indeed any H&S lapses) being sorted out.
(Rob Kinchin-Smith (Acting Chairman, Banbury Civic Society)