Planning permission declined because design is ‘undecorated and ugly’

Architects have been told to redesign an office block branded as ‘square, undecorated and ugly’.

It had been expected a new, five-storey building next to Tesco on Station Street would be approved at the planning committee today.

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But councillors rejected the design, and have told the applicants to go back to the drawing board.

Planning Committee Chair, Cllr Chris Gibson, said: “The planning application for grade A offices on Station Street wasn’t refused by planning committee – it was deferred until September committee to seek design improvements to the office building.

Planning Officers are working with the applicant already to resolve this.  Committee support grade A offices on the site but felt the architecture wasn’t of high enough quality for this important gateway site next to the train station.”

Elements of the brick and glass building will now be re-designed, before new plans are re-submitted to the council in the coming months.

Under the plans, the existing buildings on the site would have been demolished.

Councillor Michael Edwards represents the Bridge ward for Labour, and said: “It has nothing to celebrate and it’s just not nice enough. It’s square, undecorated and ugly.

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“When we think about what we are losing as well, if those buildings had been kept up to scratch they would be beautiful, it just begs the question why can’t we keep the frontage.

“We want something that is beautiful.”

Two heritage groups raised concerns about the scheme.

Nottingham Civic Society said it “objects strongly” to the scheme, due to the demolition of the existing buildings.

In its representation to the council’s planning committee, it said: “There does not seem to have been any attempt to to consider refurbishment of the front range of the existing buildings to retain and incorporate them into the new office development on the vacant land behind, which would have helped to mediate an appropriate scale for the new development, more in keeping with the scale of the historic fabric surrounding the site, and the Hopkinson shop in particular.”

Historic England said it was “concerned by the scale, mass and design of the proposed building.”

It said the scheme could be improved by reducing the overall size of the building, and that its overall assessment was that it would “cause a high but less than substantial level of harm to the overall significance of the conservation area around the train station”.

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Councillor Linda Woodings represents the Basford Ward for Labour. Speaking at the meeting, she said: “I don’t like this building. It is not sympathetic at all to that area, and I don’t think as a contemporary building it stands out enough to jsutify itself.

“It sticks out like a sore thumb. This building just does not work. It feels too big for the buildings that it’s next to, it dwarfs Hopkinsons, and I just don’t like it as it stands.”

The rejected block would have featured semi-underground parking for 29 car parking spaces and a large reception area which would be accessed from Station Street.

All but one councillor on the Nottingham City Council planning committee voted to ask the applicants to redesign the building. Councillor Malcom Wood, who represents the Bilborough ward for Labour, abstained from voting on the design.