A controversial plan to redevelop the semi-derelict Allinson Print premises in Louth has been approved despite strong opposition from heritage groups.
At an East Lindsey planning meeting today (Thursday), district councillors backed a proposal by Geoff Allinson to demolish the existing buildings in Queen Street and to construct 10 new homes - seven terraced properties and three flats.
Among opponents were English Heritage, the Victorian Society and Louth Heritage Group - plus resident Christina Belton who was allowed to address the committee.
“It is a duty to conserve historic landmarks in conservation areas, not to blitz them in order that they can be replaced by new buildings,” she declared.
“How can it be fair to anyone in Louth to destroy 200 years of history?
“There has already been far too much degradation of our fine town because developers have learned how to wear down the council’s will to protect precious historic assets.
“Would the Italians allow the demolition of the leaning tower of Pisa in order to replace it with a less problematical straight structure? Of course not.”
Coun Ed Mossop had some sympathy with this viewpoint, arguing that some of the bricks and materials from the existing buildings should be retained, if in suitable condition, within the new development.
He also queried whether sufficient energy had been exerted by the applicant and his agents, Lincs Design Consultancy Ltd, in finding an alternative use for the site as it is now.
“Has there been a structural survey?”he demanded.
Coun Laura Stephenson took a different perspective, predicting the redevelopment would “add something to Louth” and “provide more of a welcome” for passengers arriving at the nearby bus station.
“The existing building is not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination,” she argued.
“It’s not as if anyone is asking for the demolition of St James’ Church.”
Committee chairman Coun Neil Cooper expressed confidence that the scheme would help accelerate regeneration of this part of Louth and itself become “a heritage asset of the future”.
Various conditions will be imposed both to ensure the new homes blend in with the surroundings and that work on their construction starts as soon as possible after demolition.
“The last thing we want is a barren site in this part of the town,” continued the chairman.
In a presentation to the committee, Guy Kemp, of the agents, pledged that the new development would be of “high quality”.