Major plans for 500 new homes on the former Derbyshire Royal Infirmary site in Derby look set to go ahead – despite opposition from conservation groups.
Nightingale Quarter Estates wants to create new neighbourhood consisting of houses, apartments and extra-care accommodation plus a public park – the first to be built in the city centre for more than 100 years.
Other proposed uses on the 18.5-acre site include commercial, leisure, retail and food and drink.
Outline plans, submitted in January, propose demolishing one of two “pepper pot tower” facades still standing on the site to “support wider design, access and layout objectives”.
The two facades are all that remain of the former infirmary, which was built in the early 1890s. Both are on Derby City Council’s own list of buildings considered to have “some local importance”. However, they do not have statutory protection through listing at a national level.
Nevertheless, the council’s conservation area advisory committee wants the scheme to be amended so both facades are kept. Its plea has been echoed by the Victorian Society, which campaigns to preserve Victorian buildings. Furthermore, the council’s most senior conservation officer has also called for the developer to have a “serious rethink” and retain both structures.
Nightingale Estate Quarter insists the loss of two of the four pepper pot towers with one of the facades is required to “maintain clear sight and pedestrian access through the site”.
Marketing Derby, Intu Derby and the neighbouring Anoki restaurant are among those who have expressed support for the scheme in letters to the council.
The authority’s planning control committee will determine an outline application for the new neighbourhood on Thursday.
If given the thumbs up, Nightingale Quarter Estates will be given two years to draw up detailed plans.
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In a report to the the planning committee, acting planning director David Gartside recommends the outline application be approved, subject to the negotiation of a section 106 agreement, which would outline a series of conditions of approval, some of them financial.
Discussions have already taken place and Nightingale Quarter Estates has agreed to fund a new primary school and public open space as part of the agreement, as well as just over a fifth of the cost for a new secondary school.
Nightingale Quarter Estates has also agreed that 10% of the homes it builds would be “affordable housing”.
In the recommendation part of his report, Mr Gartside says the proposed demolition of one of the pepper pot facades was a “regrettable part of the outline application” – but that consent should still be granted.
He said: “The [pepper pot facade earmarked for demolition] is only of local historic significance, which is why it is on the local list and it does not have any statutory protection through listing and is outside the conservation area.
“The weight given to its significance in the planning balance must therefore be less than that given to a statutory listed structure or building in the conservation area.
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“In weighing up the loss of the pepper pot building, in the planning balance, the wider benefits of the proposed redevelopment of the hospital site, both in terms of the physical regeneration, economic and social benefits of housing delivery and public realm, as well as the conservation of the other heritage assets on and around the site, must be taken into consideration.
“The proposal would deliver a new residential neighbourhood of up to 500 units, with enhanced connections to the surrounding communities and to the city centre. This amounts to a significant housing delivery for the city, which is policy compliant and would make a material contribution towards the city’s housing requirement.”
Source: Derby Telegraph