Written by Nikki O’Hagan, 27th June 2023

Planning Direct is pleased to report another planning success story. Consent has been secured for the re-development of a prominent heritage building at the heart of Newmarket’s Town Centre and Conservation Area.

Planning Direct’s Nikki O’Hagan worked on the application alongside one of our Suffolk-based architectural partners, KJ Architects. Nikki produced both the Planning Statement and the Heritage Impact Assessment, following which she liaised with the lead architect, applicant and LPA until a decision was reached. 

About the heritage building

The locally listed building faces onto both the High Street and Palace Street – two very important roads, each with a rich heritage and clear prominence in the Conservation Area. 

Whilst the front of the building retained a very special character, the rear had been subject to many 20th Century alterations, not many of which were successful. Those alterations included unsightly flat roofs, bulky air conditioning units and an unattractive, concrete courtyard. 

A clear case for re-development

The large building had been in use as both a retail shop and offices. However, the previous retailers had moved out some years prior and the shop was no longer attractive to new owners or tenants. It was oversized and not designed to modern standards, requiring some serious financial investment and a range of internal building works. The upper storey offices were also of limited quality and struggled to find occupants. 

The need for re-development was clear and so the new owners contacted KJ Architects and Planning Direct for their advice and assistance. 

Some of the insensitive, modern alterations to the building

The plan of action

Together, it was decided that the building should be transformed. It would retain a smaller retail unit – made fit for modern purposes – on the ground floor, facing the High Street. Above, the offices would be overhauled and converted to housing. The less attractive rear of the building would be mostly demolished and rebuilt better as residential flats. 

In addition, the site’s external areas would be given new life, with a comprehensive planting scheme and attractive new surface. Many features to support local wildlife, biodiversity and sustainable urban drainage were also included. 

The planning issues

There were a few potential pitfalls for the application, including:

  1. As an historic site at the heart of the Town Centre, it was not possible to meet modern Parking Standards for the 7 new residential units.
  1. As a locally listed building at the heart of the Conservation Area, there would be a presumption against the loss/reduction of its heritage value. Although the rear of the building was poorly altered, it still retained some clear heritage value. That value was mainly in its older fabric which was believed to date from at least the 19th Century. 

Nikki ensured these matters were addressed from the earliest stages of the application. Later on, she negotiated a few minor alterations to the scheme with the local council’s planning and heritage officers.

Extracts from Planning Direct’s Heritage Impact Assessment

The result: planning permission secured for re-development of heritage building

Full planning permission for the re-development of the heritage building was granted by West Suffolk Council on 27th April 2023. 

The scheme will deliver 2 x residential flats, 1 x bedsit and 4 x 2/3 storey, 3-bed mews houses – all of an excellent quality – in Newmarket Town Centre. The spacious flats will be provided with generous cycle parking facilities. They will also benefit from a very pleasant shared garden, overlooking the historic Palace Street. On their doorstep, a whole host of shops, services and transport links are available. The Rutland Arms – a Grade II listed public house and hotel, currently up for sale – is only 25 metres away. 

The revived retail shop will soon provide a very well-appointed and well-located commercial space on the High Street, suitable for a wide range of local businesses. 

Planning Direct is very proud to have played a key role in the success of this application. The approved development will assist to regenerate Newmarket Town Centre. It will also deliver welcome enhancements of its historic environment and public realm. We look forward to the construction and occupation phases of the development – watch this space!

Are you considering the re-development of a locally or nationally listed building? Contact us today to find out how Planning Direct can assist you to secure the necessary planning and listed building consents. Our initial advice is always free of charge.

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