Letter: All that is needed is to work in a positive and collaborative spirit
The Old Coroner's Court is not done for just yet, thanks to a surprising but brave decision by the planning committee to refuse permission for its proposed replacement.
Their action could be seen as a strong signal of disapproval for the previous failure to take any of the simple steps needed to protect the building and the rejection of alternative proposals that would have retained it. Councillors have made a number of positive statements about the value of heritage to the city and the need to protect it, and now at last there is a concrete gesture to back these up.
An opportunity has been created at the eleventh hour to think again, but it is not even a breathing space. There is nothing to stop the developer, tired of being sent from pillar to post, from demolishing the building anyway, and only goodwill on his part has avoided this so far. It is not enough for the Council to say "No" to the new building. They must immediately reach out to the developer, George Johnston of Firestone, and the architect, Coda, to find an alternative. In particular, they must not insist that losing the building altogether is preferable to allowing a tall building nearby, an inexplicable position with which I'm pleased to say committee members had no truck, given recent approval for a 12-storey building just a few yards away.
All that is needed is to work in a positive and collaborative spirit. The prize is to realise the benefits both of increased city living and of the more attractive and economically successful communities that result when historic buildings are allowed to play their part.
J Robin Hughes