Historic Planning Decision

Bridgnorth’s historic townscape will get an injection of 21st Century design after a decision to block a state-of-the-art development at the rear of Bishop Percy’s House was overturned by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate.

Architect Vic Johnson, head of Johnson Design Partnership, was delighted with the decision which will see four contemporary homes built on the site of a derelict gymnasium.

Bosses at English Heritage said they “fully supported” the development and added that it would make “a positive but fitting contribution to Bridgnorth’s delightful and variegated townscape”.

Bishop Percy’s House, a Grade I-listed Elizabethan manor, is one of the most significant properties in the Midlands, yet it has stood empty for five years. Planners at Bridgnorth District Council granted permission to convert it into three luxury apartments but had vetoed the development at the rear of the building – previously the home of Bridgnorth Boys’ Club – until the Planning Inspectorate stepped in last week.

Mr Johnson, whose architectural practice in Bridgnorth has won a coveted CPRE award for its landmark eco-design of a school in Northamptonshire, explained: “The gymnasium is an eyesore and the decision to block the development was nothing more than nostalgia getting in the way of common sense.

“One of the major benefits of this modernist scheme is that, for the first time, many residents of Cartway will no longer be looking out over the existing asbestos roof. Indeed, those lucky enough to live in one of these new homes will see riverfront living in all its glory.

“Bridgnorth’s landscape is a wonderful hotch-potch of different designs from different periods in history and now it’s the turn of high-design.”

John Yates, inspector of historic buildings for English Heritage, gave his categoric support for the: “I confirm that English Heritage firmly supports the design approach adopted here.

“In a sensitive but varied historic environment such as this, the really important architectural considerations are quality and scale, rather than style. Quality comes from intrinsically high standards of design and construction, with a consistency of logic and an awareness of physical context. Scale concerns both the overall size of the development, and the scale of individual volumes, planes, lines and components.

“The selection of external materials, finishes and colours is an expression of both quality and scale, and makes a major contribution to the eventual harmony of the new building with its surroundings.

“We are satisfied that the design now proposed for this site can meet these high standards, and can come to be a positive but fitting contribution to Bridgnorth’s delightful and variegated townscape.”