Civic society has 'grave concerns' over proposed demolition of former Lancaster hardware shop

Lancaster Civic Society has aired its concerns over plans to demolish an historic city centre shop to make way for student flats.

Saturday, 1st January 2022, 3:45 pm
Lile Tool Shop. Photo: Andrew Reilly, Lancaster Past & Present on Facebook

A planning application has been received by Lancaster City Council from Mister Group of Lancaster regarding the premises at 41a to 45 North Road - which was formerly Lile Tool Shop.

The application is to demolish the premises and build in its place a student accommodation development to house 16 students.

Lancaster Civic Society planning scrutiny group (PSG) says it has grave concerns regarding the application, as the buildings proposed for demolition are identified by Lancaster City Council in their Heritage Action Zone document for the Mill Race Area as “positive buildings”.

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The shop front as it now appears in the planning application.

It has also been noted by the PSG that the buildings on either side of this proposed development have already been ‘sensitively’ rebuilt or converted.

A civic society spokesman said: "The civic society have already expressed their concern to the city council in August 2021 stating that the frontage of Lile Tool Shop must be maintained irrespective of any future use of this building and are particularly anxious that the council must take steps to ensure that the owners of the property do more to protect it from further damage whilst its future is debated as we may well end up with a similar situation to the Crown Hotel, which was forced to be demolished from a safety aspect."

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Some of the key issues that the PSG wants to be taken into account regarding the building are:

Shop identified (ringed) on Mackreth's 1778 map, from the planning application.

*A building with strong links with Lancaster's industrial heritage since the tool shop was much used by Gillows' craftsmen whose workshops were nearby.

*An example of a genuine specialist retail outlet

*Has been allowed to fall into near dereliction through neglect over a number of years

*It now stands out as an eyesore on a prominent site

*Is in a flood risk area

*Buildings on either side have been sensitively re-built or converted

*The proposed new use is for student accommodation which the civic society has already warned is in over-supply,

While the building is not a listed property, it is within a conservation area and could be considered for local listing as a Non-designated Heritage Asset.

The PSG have yet to submit their responses but would welcome comments from members in relation to this application.

Additionally, you add your own comments to the application by going online here and using reference 21/00007/FUL.