As Council prepares to reconsider their decision to allow Accent Nene to demolish the historic Thurston House on Lincoln Road to make way for affordable housing Councillor John Peach recalls the historic significance of Thurston House and makes some practical suggestions for the best way forward. Broadcast at 07:22 on Tuesday 13th July 2010 in the Paul Stainton Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Peterborough.
PAUL: This story making the news for the last few weeks as well, this Victorian manor house on Lincoln Road, Thurston House, set for demolition, it could yet be saved. Apparently plans to pull it down were approved last week, to be replaced by thirty affordable homes. But two councillors have called in the decision, which means that the Full Council will now vote for or against the plans tomorrow night. John Peach is one of the Park Ward councillors and he’s opposing the plans. Morning John.
JOHN: Good morning.
PAUL: Now we spoke ad nauseam about this house, which is a beautiful Victorian manor house, which is falling into quite a bit of disrepair. Just remind people exactly where it is.
JOHN: Well it’s Thurston House. It’s number Eighty Lincoln Road, which is immediately next door to St Marks Church on Lincoln Road. Some people might know the old Tom Lock pub, and it’s about opposite that.
PAUL: Now we thought the decision had been made on this. I thought it was coming down.
JOHN: Well it did go to the full City Council Planning Committee last week, and a number of people spoke against the application. It did get voted through, but a couple of councillors have used what’s called the call-in procedure, where if they’re not happy or don’t think the decision is quite right according to Council planning policies, they can call the matter in, and it then goes to the next Full Council meeting, which happens to be this week on Wednesday evening.
PAUL: Right, Ok. And what do you expect to happen there? Is there a strength of feeling behind keeping this house?
JOHN: I think certainly in Peterborough there is, because it’s one of the few very large Victorian houses. It’s on an extensive site. It has connections with the Barford family, who then later became Barford and Perkins, of which Perkins Engines then matured. So it’s got quite a lot of local connections. I believe that Mr Barford was also a former mayor of the City of Peterborough. But it’s not just because it’s an old building and it has local connections. It is in a conservation area, and the Council has a lot of rigid policies about development in a conservation area.
PAUL: Come on John. It’s just an old house. We need affordable homes, don’t we John?
JOHN: Well all we’re asking is for Accent Nene to come up with a scheme, because we’re not against development, just to come up with a scheme for that site that means they can retain Thurston House and probably put a little bit of other development on the house. In fact what they could do if they really wanted a lot of affordable housing, is get outline permission for a few executive houses on the same site, retaining Thurston House, sell the land to a developer with that planning permission, and then buy another bit of land somewhere else in the city. They’d probably get double the amount of land for their money and put double the amount of affordable homes on the site.
PAUL: Do residents really care though John?
JOHN: Well yes. There’ll be a lot of residents I think at the Council meeting on Wednesday speaking against the application.
PAUL: And what happens if it’s rejected by the Council? Is this a process that could carry on and on and on?
JOHN: Well if it is rejected all we will be saying, certainly all I will be saying on Wednesday evening when I speak against the application, is we’re not against development, we just want Accent Nene the owners of the land and the owners of the property to come up with a sensible scheme for that part of the city, which bears in mind its conservation zone status, and can put some but limited development on that site.
PAUL: Well we did invite Accent Nene on to the show this morning to comment. They’re waiting for a final decision to take place before they comment, but as soon as they do we’ll get them on the show.