Dismay at plan to demolish historic Hereford rectory

A CONSERVATION charity is calling on Herefordshire Council to reject plans to demolish an Edwardian rectory in Hereford.

The Victorian Society says it strong objects to Hereford Diocese’s plans to demolish the rectory of St Nicholas’ Church on Breinton Road and replace it with housing.

The rectory was built between 1909–10 by the local firm of Nicholson and Hartree.

Historic England has noted the high quality of the materials used to build the rectory and the remarkable intactness of its original and detailed interiors.

The charity says the destruction of the building would see further erosion of the city’s heritage.

The diocese wants to demolish the detached rectory to provide six two-bedroom homes and three three-beds.

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Tom Taylor, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society, said: “This former rectory is the kind of solid, well-designed and well-executed historic building that forms the fundamental texture of our surviving Victorian and Edwardian suburban built heritage.

“It has survived essentially intact, both inside and out. There is no suggestion that it is necessary for structural reasons to demolish it, or that it is beyond repair.

“There is also no suggestion that marketing the building as a single dwelling has been attempted or reasonably discounted.

“To replace this structurally sound, high-quality historic building and large garden with a row of nine new dwellings and a car park will result in the loss of a non-designated heritage asset and harm the historic and architectural character of Hereford.”

The charity also says the proposals would not be in keeping with the council’s climate emergency declaration and the Church of England’s pledge to take climate change seriously.

“Given the climate emergency, the sensitive reuse and retrofit of historic buildings is preferable to demolition and erection of new buildings, almost no matter how energy efficient they are,” a spokesperson for the Victorian Society said.

“Demolishing this characterful and structurally sound building is wasteful.

“The diocese should rethink its approach and take the green and energy-efficient option and find a way to reuse the historic rectory or sell it to a buyer who would appreciate its charms.

“If not, Hereford Council [Herefordshire Council] must reject the application for its demolition if it is serious about meet its climate targets.”

A spokesperson for Hereford Diocese said the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community is encouraging churches and dioceses to think about how we use some of our property to meet local housing need.

“The proposed redevelopment plans for St Nicholas’ Rectory, will provide nine affordable family homes in the city centre.”

“We recognise the need for all parties to engage in the planning process and to ensure that the different views regarding this project are heard. Our approach to this project is to proceed with stakeholder engagement.

“We will seek to incorporate affordable environmental building standards whilst providing sustainable housing for the local community.”

Herefordshire Council is expected to consider the scheme by November 30.

Hereford Times