Former hat factory in Atherstone to be totally demolished

  Posted: 08.12.20 at 13:53 by David Lawrence - Local Democracy Reporter

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An historic former hat works in Atherstone is to be totally demolished after it was agreed that incorporating some of the original building into a new care home would be too costly.

And although councillors gave the amended plans the go ahead at a meeting this week, a number of them admitted they were unhappy with the decision that will see the Britannia Works, on Coleshill Road, raised to the ground.

The early 19th Century building, which is Grade II Listed, is one of the few remaining links to Atherstone’s heritage as a ‘hatting’ town but has been empty since 1999 during which time much of it has become unsafe.

The original application for a 70-bed care home would have seen 90 per cent of the works knocked down with just part of the Coleshill Road frontage remaining. Now it would seem the cost of keeping that part of the site intact could cost up to £500,000.

Cllr Ray Jarvis (Con, Atherstone North) summed up the current situation when he told this week’s planning board meeting at North Warwickshire Borough Council “It is in a pretty dire state and some of the locals won’t walk down the pavement because they know that the structure is liable to shed bricks. When you look skywards you can see bricks that are loose. There are mature trees growing out the side.”

But others were unhappy with the turn of events.

Cllr Colin Hayfield (Con, Coleshill South) said “This has been a heritage building that we’ve watched cease its function and there has been opportunity after opportunity to do something with it.

“It has slowly deteriorated and to be frank we have sat back and watched it deteriorate and I think that is really regrettable. I won’t vote against but I cannot support it – it is a great shame. We had wonderful plans for this at one stage and one by one they’ve fallen away.”

And Cllr Neil Dirveiks (Lab, Atherstone Central) added “I am extremely unhappy that this outcome is being suggested. I understand the reasons for it but we have been fighting ever since the factory closed to find a development for this site which would be an asset to the town but it has dragged on so long with a variety of developers coming in. We have spent so much time with different plans it is almost unbelievable.”

The demolition was approved but with extra conditions that will see brickwork and historical signs salvaged and the Coleshill Road buildings rebuilt to look like the originals.

Planning officer Jeff Brown explained: “The applicant himself does want to retain the front elevation – it’s his selling point in terms of marketing the site which he sees as a major benefit.”

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