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Government planning inspector issues a split decision on the redevelopment of the former Slimma textile site in Leek

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: April 17, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

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A Government inspector has issued a split decision on the redevelopment of a former textile factory site.

In February residents turned out in force to attend a public hearing to voice their concerns over proposals to redevelop the former Slimma factory site in Leek with 20 houses and 12 apartments.

The application site is surrounded by Barngate Street, James Street, Waterloo Street and Langford Street.

Residents in the area raised concerns over the design of the buildings and also parking, as only 27 places were being made available.

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Planning inspector Mel Middleton has now announced his decision following the appeal.

The inspector has allowed the appeal for the redevelopment of 20 affordable houses, but has dismissed the plans for the 12 apartment block.

In his appeal decision report Mr Middleton said: “I conclude that the site is a sustainable location for residential development. The area is characterised by streets tightly packed with terrace housing, largely constructed before the First World War. These are interspersed with workshops, factories and former mill buildings.

“A number have been successfully converted into residential apartments, including Waterloo Mill, which faces the appeal site.

“The appeal proposal would construct terraces of dwelling along James Street, Langford Street and Waterloo Street. In my view the terraces would introduce a complementary design to this street scene that would reinforce local distinctiveness, without deliberately trying to copy the other houses in these streets.”

In the proposal part of the frontage to Barngate and Waterloo Street would be occupied by a three storey building containing the 12 apartments.

Mr Middleton said: “The apartment block would be three storey with a pitched roof and more than twice the height of the former corner building.

“While the main building would front Waterloo Street, there would be a substantial outrigger extending along the back of the pavement some distance down Barngate Street. This would undoubtedly obscure some of the former views from the listed mill in this direction and compromise its unfolding dominance as the street is traversed towards it.”

Roger Adams, of Langford Street, who was one of the residents opposing the scheme, said: “This was about fighting for something that was wrong.

“Planners at the district council had recommended that members of the council’s planning applications committee approved the plan for the huge building.

“Now a national planning inspector has seen the plan was wrong. The power of people has been used for positive change.”

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