A WATERED-DOWN plan for a new cultural quarter on the site of the old Royal Worcester Porcelain factory have been approved, including the controversial demolition of historic buildings.

The planning committee of Worcester City Council gave the green light to the £3 million development including seven four-storey town houses and a trio of three-bed apartments (10 homes in total) during a meeting at the city’s Guildhall today (Thursday).

Controversially, the scheme involves knocking down buildings linked to the site, including one of the oldest buildings on the site known as ‘the Farmhouse’ and another which was described as ‘architecturally rich’ and dating back to between 1863 and 1875 although neither were listed.

Planning officers said it was necessary to demolish these buildings to make the scheme as a whole ‘viable’.

The original £11 million scheme was deemed unaffordable by the Bransford Trust with the alternative scheme put together with Worcester Live.

It involves the Grade II listed showroom becoming an events venue seating 150 people.

In total six buildings on the site will be demolished and another partially demolished, keeping the Severn Street frontage (behind which will be the new town houses).

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, Worcester’s heritage champion, said some of the buildings on the site where a ‘hotchpotch’ with some of them relatively new but admitted that the demolition of two of the buildings in particular raised concerns.

However, she stressed that granting the application did not represent ‘carte blanche to demolish buildings’.

She added: “By approving the scheme we send a message that we are committed to developing the arts scene in Worcester.”

She also said the scheme would secure the future of the listed buildings on site.

Cllr Jabba Riaz argued that ‘few if any of the buildings are historically pure’ and ‘all have undertaken some degree of change’.

Cllr Marc Bayliss said the scheme represented a difficult balancing act.

He added: “I was concerned by the state of the site and what happens when you don’t use a building for a decade and how easy it is for it to fall into complete disrepair.

“What would be left if we leave it another 10 years? If we do leave them as they are it is very likely we will have lost the frontages.”

He urged the committee to ‘put head over heart’ when it voted.

Cllr Paul Denham said: “The inside of these buildings now aren’t worthy of retention. They’re an absolute run-down mess.

"This is a scheme worthy of support. I’m not going to have any sleepless nights over the loss of some of the buildings I saw yesterday.”

Cllr Pat Agar said the scheme ‘adds a gem to our arts offer’ and Cllr Prodger that it was it was ‘not right’ to leave it as it was.

Cllr Alan Amos, chairman of the committee, said: "Clearly they (two of the buildings to be demolished) don't fit into a scheme that's viable.

"It's a dreadful shame but the die is cast."

The scheme was approved with a vote of 10 in favour and one against.