Town councillors object to proposed demolition of old Hedon Post Office

By Ray Duffill, Hedon Correspondant


 

DEMOLITION PROPOSAL: The old Hedon Post Office with windows boarded up last week. Photo by Ray Duffill

 

HEDON TOWN Councillors have objected once again to the proposed demolition of the old Post Office building in Market Place. 

At its planning meeting on Thursday, January 14 Hedon Town Council considered the application for planning permission to demolish the old Post Office building and construct in its place two ground-floor business units with two small flats above. Once again the council objected to the proposal. 

Councillor Sarah Rommell perhaps captured the mood of the meeting when she said: “The sweet shop windows of the old building add to the character of the town, you just need to look at the number of photos and pictures taken of the place over the years to see that.” 

The old Post Office, built in the 1950s on the site of the Tiger Inn, is not a listed building but councillors had been advised by the East Riding Council’s conservation officer that it was ‘not harmful’ to the designated Hedon conservation area. But whether the building itself has character is open to differing interpretations. 

Humble Heritage consultancy acting on behalf of the applicant, a Mr Saunders, said in its heritage statement in December 2020 as part of the application process: “The assessment of significance in this report finds that the application site is a modern building that does not have any heritage significance. 

Indeed its discordant design and incongruous single storey height is not in keeping with the traditional Market Place and townscape at Hedon. It is a modern building that lacks any historic fabric, features or fittings.” 

However, in its April 2020 submission Historic England offers a differing view: “The Post Office is a modest yet characterful 1950s building that has been constructed to be sympathetic to the conservation area. Care and attention have been paid to the form and materials, the bay windows, reflecting a shop front from the late 18th and early 19th century. The building positively contributes towards the character of the area, and its low height allows view through to St. Augustine’s Church.”

 

CHARACTER: The Post Office as it was with ‘sweet shop’ bow windows. Photo by Ray Duffill

 

The other issue raised by this debate is whether demolition of the old building is really necessary or whether the existing building be used for new purposes. Humble Heritage in the same document quoted above thinks a new building makes more economic and environmental sense and would benefit the character of old Hedon. It would allow for an upper floor to be constructed (the existing building does not have an upper floor space) for use as two 1-bedroom apartments. There would be additional floorspace both forwards and to the rear to accommodate two businesses. 

Historic England, however, has reiterated in its submissions that the current building positively contributes to the character of the area and that there does not seem to be a clearly stated justification for the demolition proposed. Mr Stephen Walker on behalf of the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Conservation Officer in his submission in November 2020 stated that the area contains a high ratio of Grade II listed buildings, and the existing building is not considered as being harmful. The introduction of a new building into this area would be in contradiction of the defined special character and appearance of the conservation area. Again, Mr Walker offered the view that the demolition would require a high degree of justification. 

According to the applicant’s submission there will be temporary employment created in the construction phase and then new employment resulting from businesses established in the two units. Their expectation is that new businesses will attract more footfall in the town centre from which other local businesses would benefit. 

Councillor Jason Brindley asked rhetorically at the meeting: “How many business units in the town centre are already vacant?” He queried whether two new units being available would necessarily result in an increased demand for premises.