Plans to convert Ashby Grade II listed school building into offices get the go-ahead

By Graham Hill

28th Feb 2021 | Local News

Plans to turn Ashby's historic Grade II Hood Building into offices have been given the green light.

An application for the demolition of the existing extension and change of use of existing school to office building and erection of two storey and single storey extensions - including parking area - was made last March.

And now North West Leicestershire District Council has granted planning permission for the conversion to go ahead.

An officer's report says: "The Hood Building to which this application relates is a grade II listed building and used to be the Ashby de la Zouch Boys' Grammar School of the early 19th century.

"This building is considered of high historical interest due to its contribution to the development of the town and the gate piers and street boundary wall are also grade II listed.

"The building is now empty and includes an area of hardstanding immediately west/south-west of the former school building which previously served as a playground.

"In terms of public benefit, the scheme would secure a suitable re-use of the existing school building which is appropriate for the building and the town centre location where high-quality office accommodation is sought.

"The extension would provide further high-quality office space in a sustainable location which would provide an economic benefit.

"The existing building is no longer needed for education and requires a suitable re-use for its long-term maintenance.

"The heritage argument is therefore finely balanced with harm at a less than substantial level arising from the loss of part of the playground but with a suitable re-use and provision of high-quality office space representing a suitable use of a currently under-used site within a sustainable location.

"It must also be acknowledged that whilst the former playground provides a heritage benefit to the setting of the former school, the building is no longer used as a school and the appreciation of its importance is therefore less than it once was.

"The site is now used as a car park and this would in part continue. Therefore, on balance, it is considered that the public benefit arising from the suitable re-use of the listed building and safeguarding its future and the provision of additional office space and the resulting economic benefit are public benefits that outweigh the less than substantial harm from the development of part of the former school playground.

"The principle of the development is acceptable.

"The proposal is not considered to have any significant detrimental design and on balance the less than substantial harm to the heritage assets is outweighed by the public benefit of the proposal. It is therefore recommended that the application be permitted."


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