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Mixed response to planning application for former Botany Pub

Saturday 8 October 2016

The former Botany Pub (61 Conduit Place) has had a chequered history. I remember it as a friendly pub run by a Sikh guy, which then became the unfortunately named Legless Arms (run by David Legg), who did rather fine Sunday brunches but presented them in a curmudgeonly way. A desperate period as a crack house ended when an arts group revived it and converted it to studios, potteries etc and it was sad when this ended. It went on the market a couple of years ago for £275,000 and was bought by pioneering couple named Campbell Clause. They did good work on the building and threw themselves into community activities such as the St Werburghs Arts Trail.

Now an application has been posted which will involve a substantial expansion of the property into two dwellings – this appears to be dividing local residents – some feeling it is an ‘over-ambitious’ scheme which will overlook the nearby pocket park, have a negative effect on wildlife and cause the removal of a local mural of the late DJ, John Peel. There are also concerns expressed about parking and urban infill. Some objections are with a heavy heart, recognising the community attitude of the residents of 61 and the improvements they have made to the buildings. Support comes from residents who emphasize the positive improvements already made, the fact that structurally unsound walls will be replaced with usable accommodation with roof gardens. They make the point that a park is not by nature a private space and that the fact that the design includes a balcony facing the park could actually curb antisocial behaviour, including drug use, there. They also make the point that street art, by its nature, is usually temporary. Part of the problem appears to be lack of consultation by the council with this proposal.

The scheme, by Elkins Architects of Chippenham, involves creating an additional independent residential unit in what used to be the cellar and bathrooms of the old pub. There is to be a studio space for a potter and an extension on the first floor to create a proposed independent dwelling – it is this dwelling that would have the balcony overlooking the park but apparently not neighbouring dwellings. At present there is a four bed-roomed house- afterwards there would be an additional three bed-roomed property. They propose use of double roman tiles, stone, and timber cladding with traditional sash and casement windows.

The property is in a flood risk zone 2 – to be ameliorated by the fact the new accommodation is on the first floor and the green roofs will reduce run-off. There appears, however, to be some loss of garden vegetation for the scheme.

The application is available for comment until 5th October here

 

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