Stamford residents’ concern at digital hub plans

A sketch of the Haatch's digital hub which could be built at the Cummins Social Club site if approved by South Kesteven District Council. EMN-140626-110944001
A sketch of the Haatch's digital hub which could be built at the Cummins Social Club site if approved by South Kesteven District Council. EMN-140626-110944001
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Fears that a proposed digital hub is “too radical” for the centre of Stamford has prompted residents to call for the plans to be rejected.

Households in Blackfriars Street say the five-storey building which will act a business innovation centre for dot-com entrepreneurs should not be built in a residential street.

Scott Weavers-Wright EMN-140313-131530001

Scott Weavers-Wright EMN-140313-131530001

They cite size, lack of parking, loss of light and not being compatible with a conservation area among concerns.

The £2.5 million redevelopment of the Lansbury Hall premises is being funded by entrepreneur Scott Weavers-Wright, pictured, of Haatch, who plans to build a hub where digital companies can incubate and benefit from each others’ expertise and enterprise. It is expected to create around 150 jobs.

He argues the plans were drawn up with the help of English Heritage who would have ensured it was compatible with the conservation area.

But residents have written to South Kesteven District Council objecting to the plans.

At a meeting of Stamford Town Council planning committee on Tuesday, members voted to recommend that the full council reject the plans at its next meeting on July 24.

Shaun Ford, of Blackfriars Street said: “The most obvious problem with the proposed building is its size. Despite attempts to mask the fact by clever design, the sheer bulk of the structure is totally at odds with its surroundings and dwarfs other buildings.”

Mr Ford added that a building and business of its size should be sited on the edge of the town with ample parking.

He said: “Wharf Road car park has served local residents and visitors adequately. If a substantial number of its spaces were taken up by the 150 or so occupants of the Hub, it could lead to big problems.”

Lynne Almond, another Blackfriars Street resident said: “The building is double the size of any on the street. It’s quite inappropriate for a conservation and residential area.

“I am not opposed to redevelopment. But what we don’t want is one inappropriate building replaced with another. It’s just monumental. Where are all the people going to park?

“It’s going to be a busy commercial building which would be more appropriate on the edge of the town.”

David Gloucester, also a resident of the street, said: “Most of all it is a residential area and not a place for offices. It will put a huge strain on the infrastructure of Stamford which we cannot weather.”

Mr Gloucester, who thinks it unlikely the hub would be used by local people added: “I take the view it’s like a Trojan horse coming to Stamford.”

Mr Weavers-Wright said the hub would “enhance Stamford” as too many residents working in the technology industry commute to London.

“We have an opportunity here,” he said. “Stamford doesn’t have a digital presence. Haatch has already invested in young businesses all of which will work from the Hub. I am a huge fan of Stamford and it will be good for the town.”

Mr Weavers-Wright said as part of a major planning application many of the concerns people expressed like loss of light were aspects that consultants had looked at and reported on in the application.

He also said he had sought the views of a number of groups before taking the plunge and submitting plans.

“The premises have been commercial for decades - it was a social club and before that a cinema, so I am struggling to understand the arguments the neighbours have put forward.

“Rather than take this vision to London I thought it would be good for Stamford, so I am really surprised at some of the reaction. The feedback we’ve had is that Stamford people would rather work in a hub locally than commute which indicates that the bulk of the people would not be bringing in cars.

“It is something we took into account which is why we have made provision for shower rooms for those who will be walking or cycling.”

The final decision on the plans are expected to be made by the district council’s development control committee on August 29.