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Residents vow to keep fighting plans for flats at former Slimma site in Leek

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: April 23, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

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RESIDENTS have vowed to continue fighting plans to build an apartment block near their homes following a Government inspector's 'split' decision on the redevelopment of an old factory site.

Inspector Mel Middleton has allowed a planning appeal for the construction of 20 affordable houses on the former Slimma site in Leek.

However, he dismissed another part of the plan for a three-storey apartment block containing 12 units.

The developer behind the project has now confirmed he will press ahead with building the 20 homes – and intends to resubmit amended proposals for the block of flats.

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

Roger Adams, of Langford Street said: "The community feels some measure of pride and vindication in what it has achieved over the past 14 months.

"If it hadn't been for the commitment shown by residents, this application would have been rubber-stamped by the district council's planning department, regardless of the impact upon this well-established residential part of Leek."

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's planning committee refused the scheme on August 22, despite it being recommended for approval by officers.

It then went to appeal, leading to the inspector's decision on the 20 homes.

Another resident, Ted Lowell, of James Street, said: "The community will continue to fight this ongoing application.

"The applicant will submit changes for the three-storey block and seek to convince officers that it is all for the good of Leek."

Lee Dawkin, director of site developer Cheshire-based Renew Land Developments Ltd, told the Post & Times: "We are pleased with the outcome and feel the inspector has given a positive conclusion for the site to have affordable housing.

"He has given approval for the 20 houses which can now go-ahead.

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"Detailed work is now needed and we will now go back and change the design of the apartment block from three-storey to two."

Ben Weatherley, of planning agent Knights of Newcastle, said: "We note that the inspector found the scale and massing of the proposed apartments to be unacceptable in terms of their impact on the setting of the listed building, Waterloo Mill, and on the living conditions at one of the adjoining residential properties. As a result we are in the process of reviewing the inspector's decision in full with a view to preparing a revised scheme."

In his decision Mr Middleton said: "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. 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."

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