School house saved as flats plan gets ok

U-turn: the old school house, now to be preserved, not demolished

U-turn: the old school house, now to be preserved, not demolished

First published in News Worcester News: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

TWENTY-two new apartments have secured the green light to be built near Worcester Porcelain Museum - as one of the city’s most historic buildings was saved.

Developers Berkeley Homes has won approval for the flats off King Street, as part of the ongoing Diglis development, after a u-turn.

The company, which was heavily criticised by the museum two months ago, has agreed to retain the oldest parts of the old school house, which dates back to the 1850s and convert it instead of going for demolition.

It has also agreed to create some prominent public art on the approach to the apartments to publicise the museum and encourage people to go inside.

In October Berkeley Homes wanted to build 28 apartments, which would have blocked the museum’s view and cover up a plaque on a King Street wall alerting people to it.

Worcester City Council’s planning committee agreed the new plans, saying it was a great turnaround.

Councillor Robert Rowden said: “I’m delighted to see the changes made since last time, and it’s great to see the retention of the old section of the school house because it would have made a difference to have lost it.”

As part of the deal Berkeley Homes will knock down a wing of the building constructed in the 1960s and create an outdoor piazza to make the site even more attractive.

The plan is to eventually link it to a £10m cultural quarter being planned for the area, which is the work of the Bransford Trust.

Councillor Derek Prodger said: “I’m delighted they are talking (the developer and museum) because that’s how we resolve things.

“This is a key part of Worcester’s heritage and character.”

Amanda Savidge, museum director, savaged the plans last time around and said it could destroy one of Worcester’s best assets.

This time, she sent the committee a letter saying the changes were welcome news.

“The museum feels the dialogue with Berkeley Homes and the Bransford Trust to achieve a piazza scheme will create an attractive feature for the surrounding heritage sites and the city of Worcester,” she said.

The new apartments will sit in a series of two and three storey terraced buildings, with 51 parking spaces.

It was voted through unanimously.

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