Homes for over-60s given go-ahead on former council office site

June 23 2017

THE former council offices in Castle Street, Thornbury, can be knocked down and the site redeveloped for a retirement complex, a planning inspector has ruled.

THE former council offices in Castle Street, Thornbury, can be knocked down and the site redeveloped for a retirement complex, a planning inspector has ruled.

James Bridgwater held a three-day inquiry into the proposal by Churchill Retirement Living, as well as visiting the town to see the premises, before making his decision.

Churchill can now go ahead and demolish the building, which used to be the headquarters of South Gloucestershire Council, and put 57 sheltered flats and five cottages for the over-60s in its place.

The site on which the offices stand is within the town’s conservation area and close to a number of listed buildings, making it a prominent and sensitive location.

Churchill’s scheme drew complaints that the design of the complex was not suitable for such a setting but Mr Bridgwater decided it would not result in harm to the character and appearance of the area.

The developers said a date for the start of the construction work would be available shortly.

A partial award of costs was also allowed by Mr Bridgwater against the council in relation to one aspect of the case.

The inquiry took place after Churchill lodged an appeal against the non-determination of its application by the council’s planners.

At a subsequent meeting, planning committee members decided they would have refused the scheme had they been in a position to determine it.

They claimed the proposal failed to reach the highest possible standards of site planning and design and would result in “significant and demonstrable” harm that outweighed the benefits of the proposal.

The offices were originally used by the former Northavon District Council, then the South Gloucestershire authority until it decided to cut the number of offices it occupied.

There was a lack of interest for an alternative office use for the building and the sale to Churchill went ahead in 2015.