I've noticed in this week's advertised applications the return of the proposed reconstruction ('alteration') of 11-12 Church Lane, Banbury. The building is a pair of two-and-a-half-storey Georgian cottages at the heart of the Banbury Conservation Area, located on one of the town's most-loved and characterful pedestrian shopping streets. The proposal adds a further one-and-a-half storeys to the buildings and fundamentally reconfigures the existing front and rear elevations, with new modern shopfront, pastiche neo-Georgian windows in enlarged and relocated openings and new and inappropriate hipped roof with heavy, overscale dormers.
11 & 12 Church Lane Banbury OX16 5LR Conversion of two retail units into one, change of use from A1 to A2 and alterations to form 5 no flats above by the conversion of a third story and alterations to the shop frontage (as amended by drawing nos PS99/002B, 003B, 004A, 006A received 22/12/08) - re-submission of 08/02123/F for New Recruits Professional Services (Delegated)(C)
We never understood how this application was approved previously (we objected strongly), as neither Church Lane, the pedestrianised town centre, nor the wider Banbury Conservation Area, can afford to lose any further authentic, characterful Georgian buildings, particularly for further neo-Georgian pastiche. We would continue to argue that the proposal represents insensitive over-development of this sensitive historic building, which will result in substantial harm to the character, appearance and significance of the building and its neighbours, Church Lane and the 'Medieval Core Character Area' of the Banbury Conservation Area.
I'd note that there have been a number of changes in planning policy and guidance since this application was approved in 2008. Most importantly, we have had PPS5 and now the NPPF, both with their stress on the protection of undesignated and locally designated heritage assets. We have also got the Cherwell Conservation and Urban Design Strategy. Possibly the building has been added to the local list since 2008(?). Clearly the proposal has to be re-evaluated in the light of these changed circumstances.
Since 2008 further information has emerged pers comm that the adjoining building to the north originated as Banbury's regency theatre and that nos.11-12 (and the corresponding shop on the left of the former theatre) formed the theatre flies.
"The earliest known theatre, called Davenport, was over the Butchers' Shambles. Before 1832 it was reconstructed by James Hill in Church Lane, behind and over a furniture dealer's shop. (fn. 175) It was a brick building with boxes, gallery, and pit, and in 1854 held 200–300 persons. (fn. 176) In 1832, and probably earlier, H. Jackman from Northampton leased the theatre every two years from January to March; his shows were popular and drew full houses. (fn. 177) After the theatre's closure in 1861 touring companies played at the Exchange in the Market Place. (fn. 178)"
From: 'Banbury: Introduction', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 10: Banbury hundred (1972), pp. 5-18. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63788&strquery=theatre Date accessed: 25 March 2013.
This may or may not be the case. I'll research this further.
We recognise that there is a small public benefit in the provision of five new town-centre flats, but we do not believe that this benefit is adequate to balance the substantial harm this proposal would cause to the character, appearance and significance of the building and its neighbours, Church Lane and the 'Medieval Core Character Area' of the Banbury Conservation Area.
(Rob Kinchin-Smith, Chairman, Banbury Civic Society)