Plan for Droitwich's Chateau Impney site given the 'go ahead with conditions' - The Droitwich Standard

Plan for Droitwich's Chateau Impney site given the 'go ahead with conditions'

Droitwich Editorial 22nd Sep, 2022 Updated: 22nd Sep, 2022   0

THE PLANNING application for the Chateau Impney site has been given the go ahead – subject to conditions relating to a Section 106 agreement and a review of the ‘Little Impney’ village.

The proposals would see the historic Impney Hall restored to its former glory and all the 20th century extensions, additions and car parks removed to make way for the historic parkland being reinstated on the site,

The aims of the plans are to take the historic hall back to how it was when Salt King John Corbett created it.

The historic hall would reopen as a boutique hotel and commercial premises.

The green space increase will lead to a 42 per cent ‘biodiversity gain’ – almost unheard of in any planning application – and 990 per cent more hedgerow.

The ‘Little Impney’ village of 127 properties and four new commercial premises would be created on what would have been the estate’s working area and be away and screened from the main hall.

The applicant said the properties would more than meet current and future national housing design and environmental standards, boasting elements such as air source heat pumps, home working space and EV (electric vehicle) chargers.

As it went before the Wychavon District Council planning committee this afternoon, it was listed for refusal by officers.

One of the reasons given was a ‘lack or Section 106 agreement’.

But Rod Spollen, the custodian of the site, pointed out a draft Section 106 agreement – to enhance local infrastructure in light of the proposed new housing – was submitted in July with the applicant even offering to cover the council’s legal costs so it could be completed in time for this afternoon’s meeting.

The other was the impact the housing would have on the green belt with officers claiming the ‘very special circumstances’ for building on green fields had not been demonstrated.

Objectors, speaking at the meeting, said to approve the application, in light of the planning officers’ recommendation, the council would have to break its green belt policy which could set a precedent for future development in the district.

They said any housing should not be on green field land and, instead, on already previously developed areas.

Mr Spollen pointed out there were ‘inaccuracies’ in the report which did not point out that of the 84 properties in the green belt, 20 were on already developed land and only 64 would be on green field land.

Coun Margaret Rowley argued this was not ‘usual green belt land’ which was primarily used for preventing settlements and developments joining together – there were no other settlements near this site.

She added the John Corbett Way – which would be restored as part of the application – was created so the Salt King’s wife could get to the Catholic church she attended.

Near there, she added, was Hadzor Hall which was an ‘excellent example of an enabling application where homes were built nearby to ensure the funding was raised to refurbish the historic hall’.

Some members suggested the two developments – the Impney Hall redevelopment and the Little Impney village – be legally linked with conditions to ensure the work on the historic hall went ahead and ‘it was not just a chance to build a housing estate’.

Mr Spollen said the Chateau Impney site was ‘at a crossroads’ and without the approval he was unsure what the future held for the historic hall.

He pointed out he had been a custodian of the site for a decade and was not just a developer who had come in to build houses. He added he had a credible track record and cared about the site’s future.

When he arrived, there were £1.5million losses which he covered, along with refurbishing John Corbett’s old office, bedrooms and restoring the heritage ceilings.

Mr Spollen said neither a boutique hotel with dormant buildings (the 20th century additions) nor Little Impney Village with a dilapidated Impney Hall would work to secure the site’s future.

He would be happy for conditions to be added to ensure everything went ahead.

A number of councillors spoke in favour of the proposal.

Coun Alex Sinton, ward councillor for the area, put forward an alternative motion for approval and Coun Liz Eyre put one forward for deferral so ‘the design of the homes could be improved’.

Coun Sinton said Mr Spollen had invested hours of his time in consulting the public and substantial amounts of cash to get to this point which included offering unprecedented buggy tours of the site for residents to show them exactly what would be happening where.

Of the 163 responses via the consultation, not one person was opposed to it and there were 53 other comments in support of this application on the council’s planning portal.

Droitwich Town Council and Dodderhill Parish Council were also both in favour.

Coun Sinton added: “This is one of the most iconic buildings in the whole area and we can’t allow it to be left to go to rack and ruin like we saw with The Raven.

“The enthusiasm of the applicant is infectious – he cares about the site and is not a faceless developer from the other side of the country.”

Coun Eyre agreed there were so many things to support but said she felt there were still some issues which needed addressing.

A compromise saw the application delegated officers to approve, subject to a satisfactory Secion 106 agreement and a review of the Little Impney housing design in conjunction with the Mr Spollen and ward members. The revised motion was voted through by ten for and one against.

The second application to demolish all the 20th century buildings was voted through unanimously.

Once the application has been fully approved and work starts, Mr Spollen said he hoped the scheme could be completed within three years or – if he was pessimistically looking at the timescale – five.



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