Controversial apartment block plan for historic former Derbyshire bank set to be thrown out

Plans for modern apartment blocks on the site of an historic Derbyshire bank are set to be thrown out.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 9:39 am
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 9:48 am

London-based firm Oxygen 56 wants to turn the iconic former RBS Bank in Snitterton Road, Matlock, into apartments and build two modern apartment block buildings next to it.

However, Derbyshire Dales District Council officers say the new buildings are “adverse architectural competitors” to the historic former bank, which is Grade-II listed.

They say the modern three-storey new builds are “architectural interlopers that would be deemed inappropriate for this particular site” and “neither preserve nor enhance the Conservation Area”.

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The iconic former RBS Bank on Snitterton Road, Matlock
The iconic former RBS Bank on Snitterton Road, Matlock

Officers say the harm to the area and listed bank building is too significant to be outweighed by the benefits of gaining new housing and renovating and repairing a beloved building.

As a result, officers have recommended that the plans, which would result in 22 new apartments close to Matlock train station, are refused.

Councillors will decide at a meeting on Tuesday, June 29.

If approved, the bank building, built in the 18th century, would be altered with new window and door openings and converted into four apartments. An extension, including an archway block to “Bank House” would be demolished.

An artist's impression of how the planned development might look

A three-storey modern block, with a wide array of glass panelling and stone cladding, containing 10 apartments, would be built next to it – facing onto Derwent Way..

A further three-storey block of eight apartments would be built to the rear of the site, further away from Derwent Way.

A statement written by Evans Vettori, on behalf of the applicants, says: “There could be some perceived harm to the intrinsic character and beauty of the site, its listing and landscape.

“The scheme however looks to rectify the majority of the damage that the building and the site has endured in the past, replacing unsightly additions to the existing building and site, with well detailed appropriate and separate elements and repairing internal and external damage to the original fabric.

Another artist's impression of the planned changes

“Allowing this development will bring forward a portion of the district’s housing supply. This will contribute to houses specifically aimed at the elderly – for which there is a great need in the district.

“The site is a sustainable location for housing, as identified in the adopted Local Plan through its designation as a site for housing. Furthermore, its proximity to amenities, local transport networks and employment combine to demonstrate that this is a sustainable location for development.”

Council officers would like to see the extension to Bank House retained, but they claim the developer has said its retention would mean there is insufficient space for one of the new apartment blocks, making the scheme financially unviable.

Officers say the developer said: “The bank building conversion is heavily loss making and the rear block will have significant building costs being close to the railway. Therefore if the proposed block in a form to provide 10 units were not permitted then the whole scheme would not be viable.”

The council’s conservation officer says the proposed changes to Bank House represent significant harm and the demolition of the extension would further impact the listed building

They write that the modern design of the new apartment blocks “would be more in keeping with an urban, city, environment and not Matlock”.

A total of 13 residents have objected to the plans while two have written supporting letters.

They say: “The style and designs of the new apartments is entirely unsympathetic with the existing architecture of this Grade 2 listed building within a Conservation Area. The proposals are not in keeping, with an extensive use of zinc especially.

“Any development within a Conservation Area requires consideration of the impacts and harms to the special character and appearance of the Conservation Area, and these proposals give no such consideration and are obtrusive by design.

“The proposed height of the rear block would have a huge negative impact on many residents on Snitterton Road living opposite, affecting the far reaching views from the Road.

“The former bank building is beautiful and it will be so nice to see it restored with the eyesore side extensions removed and also it is great to see the colonnades and large tree are being retained. The proposal is considered to make a fantastic architectural statement and built respectfully in natural material, much improved on what is already there.”

Matlock Civic Association says it “welcomes the proposal to redevelop this important site in the heart of Matlock”, but says the design needs to be reconsidered, with “major reservations” over its impact on Bank House and the conservation area.

It also says: “This is such an important site not just because of its location in the town and in the Conservation Area but also because of the precedent whatever design is eventually adopted would set.

“Once a modern flat roofed design is adopted for one site it would make it more difficult to resist it becoming the norm.”

Cllr Steve Wain says: “The scheme is an excellent opportunity to develop this brownfield site on a main arterial route through Matlock. The site is highly prominent and the old bank and its colonnade is a valued part of our community.”

However, he feels the apartment blocks would “overwhelm” the former bank building.

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