Axminster eyesore branded an asset

PUBLISHED: 12:27 14 January 2014 | UPDATED: 12:27 14 January 2014

Websters Garage can be demolished says East Devon’s Conservation team but the former Busy Bee florists shop to the right is an asset to the street scene, they claim, and should remain. Photo by Chris Carson

Websters Garage can be demolished says East Devon’s Conservation team but the former Busy Bee florists shop to the right is an asset to the street scene, they claim, and should remain. Photo by Chris Carson

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Conservation team sparks fury after opposing demolition of former Busy Bee florists shop

Planning consultants are threatening to put the brakes on moves to finally rid Axminster of its biggest town centre eyesore.

While the district council’s conservation team is happy that Websters Garage is pulled down to make way for a temporary car park it says the neighbouring former Busy Bee florists shop should remain.

It claims the derelict building makes a “net positive contribution to the significance of the Conservation Area” and its demolition is considered an unacceptable part of the application.

The view was described as “astonishing” on Monday by the town council, which unanimously agreed to write and express its dismay that it could delay the long awaited redevelopment of the site.

Planning committee chairman Chris Scott said his members were “aghast” at the ruling.

“The majority of the population, let alone the council, thinks this is mad,” he said.

Mayor Jeremy Walden said the idea that the building had any architectural or historic merit was incredible.

Graham Barton, agent for the site owners, Hallmark Estates, said his clients were also angered by the conservation team’s view.

He said: “This standpoint could well result in a recommendation for refusal being put to the development management committee by the actual case planning officer if he follows his colleague’s lead.

“It’ll come as no surprise that we don’t think that No 9 (Busy Bee) brings anything that could be remotely described as at all worthy to the street scene. Quite the reverse, in fact. I can’t remember the last time I was in town and somebody didn’t come up and ask me to hurry up and knock it all down.

“Speaking as the son of a dentist when you’ve got a disintegrating tooth you don’t just leave it decaying to get even worse, you take it out, put on a temporary dressing and then attend to how best to permanently replace it.

“In exactly the same way we hope to substitute the Busy Bee building we see today with a short-term, more pleasing and useful answer to the blight that it brings to the street scene today and indeed the town generally, then in due course the full-on regeneration scheme for the whole site will follow.”

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