Accent Nene would like to demolish an historic property yards from Peterborough city centre and replace it with social housing. Stewart Jackson MP puts the case against the development to the BBC’s Paul Stainton, broadcast at 07:22 on Thursday 8th July 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
PAUL: Now a plan to demolish a Victorian manor house in Lincoln Road in Peterborough to make way for a housing development has been approved. We mentioned this many times on this show. Thurston House is to be knocked down after council chiefs approved a plan by housing association Accent Nene. The city’s MP Stewart Jackson has been very concerned about this. He spoke about it many times. He’s on the phone this morning. Morning Stewart.
STEWART: Good morning Paul.
PAUL: .. This is a very serious issue isn’t it? We spoke about it many times. A beautiful old house, just next to the church there on Lincoln Road, and now it’s to be demolished. What do you think?
STEWART: Well what I think is it’s a big mistake, and that the councillors on the planning committee didn’t even properly read the report, because it, actually the officers’ report, spoke out very strongly against it, although the recommendation to demolish it and replace it with thirty for low-quality social housing units was actually there on the report because the officers of the city council clearly want a quiet life, and it’s easier to recommend it rather than to work with the developers to try and keep Thurston House. It’s all very well the administration, the City Council, talking about an aspirational city, getting better quality housing, getting new developers and investors to come to the city, and what do they do? They take another piece of the heritage of the city , a Victorian Gayhurst Villa,a hundred or more years old, and they want to demolish it. And the lessons of the last forty years is that too many of the notable buildings and architecture of the city have already been demolished. And once gone we can’t get them back.
PAUL: What is so important about this piece of architecture?
STEWART: Accent Nene have owned this land since nineteen eighty six. And they have the cheek to come to the planning committee and say it’s in a state of disrepair, and if nothing gets done about it it’s going to fall down anyway, Thurston House. The fact is my question to them is, you’ve owned the property for a quarter of a century. What have you done about it? You’ve done nothing. You’ve deliberately let it fall into disrepair. You’ve then pressured the Council with various schemes. Remember they’re now claiming that it’s a very high quality aesthetically valuable scheme. Yet only nine months ago they tried to bring a very poor scheme with the so-called Recognition Centre, this glass monstrosity which would have been placed right next to St Marks Church. So they had to abandon that with their tail between their legs. They’ve come back with another low quality housing project, which is effectively going to import more benefit dependent workless people into an area of already multiple deprivation.
PAUL: We’ve got a statement from Accent Nene. It says : Accent Nene are pleased that Peterborough City Council’s Planning Committee decided this week to grant planning consent for the redevelopment of Thurston House into thirty four affordable homes. Thia will make a small but important contribution to reducing the nine thousand people on the waiting list for affordable homes in Peterborough. These homes are designed to the highest standards to fit well into the local street scene whilst incorporating high levels of sustainable technology. Most of the large trees on the site will also be retained. But that’s not the point, is what you’re saying, or it’s not the whole point.
STEWART: Well it’s not wholly them. That’s their job to try and get housing in the city and I don’t necessarily blame them. But I do blame the planning committee. I was embarrassed that councillors from my own Party voted for this. They couldn’t be bothered to properly read the report. And they’re now complicit to an act of municipal vandalism frankly, of demolishing this building. But it’s not over yet. I’m hopeful that the matter will be taken to the full council. There are concerns about the possibility of a judicial review and I hope we can move forward with that, and I will be also writing to the Homes and Communities Agency about this funding for the project. Because I don’t think it’s an appropriate funding project to be provided for by the Homes and Communities Agency, principally because I don’t think it’s about regeneration, I don’t think it’s about fitting in with the aspirational vision of the city, and I don’t want to be complicit with demolishing an historic building for low quality housing. I don’t think it’s the right image and vision for our city.
PAUL: Stewart thank you for that. Stewart Jackson. He’s not going to let that lie.