A plan to revitalise one of the main entrances to Stratford Town Centre has been given the go-ahead by planners.
The controversial project, which will see the former Maison nightclub site on the junction of Arden Street and Greenhill Street developed into apartments and office space, was approved on 20th October.
There has been much discussion about what would be built on the site and Studio Spicer Architects presented two previous designs for the building before its latest accepted scheme.
Both early designs came in for substantial criticism from Herald readers, with many unhappy about the large scale of the buildings proposed and the unusual designs presented.
The latest design, garnered the some positive comments, though many remained unhappy with the scale and other aspects of the scheme.
The nine apartment scheme, a significant reduction on the 27 originally proposed, will include an office on the ground floor, though the occupier has yet to be announced.
Previously the ground floor unit had been expected to be occupied by a retailer, though the accepted scheme now outlines how this will be office space.
The number of floors was also slashed from seven in the original application to a more acceptable four, but an online poll conducted back in March by the Herald, showed that 145 out of 185 voters still loathed the design.
Like the previous designs many still thought the proposed building to be too tall and inappropriately placed at such a busy junction.
Despite a significant number of objections to the application, the decision to approve the plan was not made at a public planning committee.
Explaining why this had taken place, a spokesperson for Stratford District Council said that due to the site’s small size, the lack of comments from the local ward member and the town council deciding not to make representations, it was considered appropriate.
Oliver Spicer, founding director of Studio Spicer Architects, said: “The proposals are a result of the positive contribution of the district council planning officers and conservation team.
“Working closely with the team at Stratford-on-Avon District Council has proved a success, in bringing this gateway site successfully through the planning process.”
The firm confirmed that work to transform the site would begin early next year and be completed early in 2019, with several jobs being created.
The building will be clad in corten steel and zinc, reflecting the local brickwork, while contemporary hand-made Danish brick will be used in the construction.
Unlike previous proposals for the site, no affordable housing has been accommodated within the scheme.
Comments left on the district council planning website relating to the latest design are largely negative, so the decision to approve the plan may unsurprisingly not prove popular.
However there will be some in Stratford happy that work on the site will finally begin, with many commenting on social media last week about the overgrown state of the land and poor fencing.
Local business owners have also been happy to give their views on the accepted scheme.
Karl Stallard, of Karl Stallard Furniture, said: “It is out of character with the rest of the street and it does look like quite a big building, but I actually quite like the design. I think because it’s different you’ll get people who say they don’t really like it, but once it’s built I think people will change their minds. I don’t think it would have been good if they had tried to do something old fashioned.
“It would be nice if they tidied up the site a bit now though, if work isn’t going to start until next year.”
Melanie Wright, who works at Foster Frame, said: “I really don’t like it, it’s so out of keeping with the rest of the street. I wish they had just put something normal forward for the site, just normal houses. What they are proposing is too high, it’s the first thing people see when they are approaching town from this end.”
Although the Highways Department at Warwickshire County Council had objected to the original application, after considering the updated design they dropped their objection subject to some conditions.
Highways officers have asked that a keep clear box be implemented to prevent vehicles obstructing the site and to remove the resident’s eligibility to apply for a parking permit, as these are currently oversubscribed in the area.
Stratford Town Council objected to the original application, but made no representations in relation to the updated design put forward.