June 18, 2024
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By Jason Hughes

The council has approved plans to convert a town center hotel into a new office despite concerns that adding an addition modern would “damage” its appearance.

The Bear Hotel is a Grade II-listed building in Chippenham Market Place that dates back to the 18th Century. The owners submitted the application in November.

The upper floors of this hotel that closed down several years ago would be converted to apartments if approved.

The town council voted in favor of the plan, stating that it “upgrades and does something positive” to the building.

The design of the new office has raised some controversy.

Andy Conroy’s report, the head of planning at Chippenham Town Council, stated that the use change was approved but expressed concern about the impact on the building.

He said at a meeting of the planning committee: “I do think that structure appears quite dominant and heavy.”

The glazed structure would be a dominant element in the rooftop landscape of the conservation zone.

The proposed CGI shows that the first-floor addition would block views of roofscapes of listed Market Place building, which create a foreground for the church.

The current approach to design at the first- and second floor level will harm the importance of views in the conservation area.

Cllr William Douglas also expressed similar concerns, having originally opposed the plan.

The man added, “I do not think that this application will be approved by the committee as it is in a conservation zone and will cause damage to the city.”

I think that it is a great idea to use it again, otherwise there could be a collapsed roof and wreckage in the middle of town.

The report was a good one, but I reluctantly felt we needed to object.

Councillors, despite these concerns, voted to not object to plans for bringing the landmark back to use. However, they did submit the comments of the planning officer.

Nic Puntis, Cllr. said that the building was being rejuvenated after a very long period of time. I like (the new design).

The tilted scale is that I believe this will improve Chippenham, bring it up to date with the times and be sympathetic towards the original heritage.

This argument has been backed up by many councillors.

The scheme would retain La Taperia on the first floor.

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