Casebook: Appeal Case - Listed buildings - Demolition of theatre and bank held unjustified

The demolition of two grade II listed buildings in a Kent town has been rejected after an inspector decided that their loss could not be sanctioned in the absence of details of what would replace them.

The proposal concerned a theatre dating from 1899 and a bank dating from the early 20th century. The theatre had suffered from vandalism, neglect and water damage following a fire, while the bank was affected by damp and was in disrepair. The inspector acknowledged substantial safety concerns over both buildings.

He accepted that the architectural style of the main part of the theatre could be described as "utilitarian art deco" but found that the front section was of a more flamboyant design. As there were no positive proposals for the replacement of the theatre, he felt that it was not possible to make a judgement as to the relative merits of any particular scheme.

Provided that the valuable parts on the street frontages were retained, the inspector was persuaded that the condition of the rear auditorium was so poor that its demolition was justified. But the appellants were only prepared to accept the retention of the facade. The inspector ruled that a more substantial part of the structure should be retained because it had genuine architectural and historic interest and made a contribution to the street scene.

Regarding the bank, an Edwardian baroque brick and stone building, the inspector opined that insufficient evidence had been submitted to justify demolition. He noted that a structural investigation was very limited in scope, no evidence of marketing had been submitted and no data had been provided on refurbishment costs. He concluded that the proposal would conflict with development plan policies and government guidance.

DCS No: 100039822; Inspector: Paul Jackson; Written representations.

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