Campaigners’ dismay as Stamford hub plan is approved

A digital impression of the proposed Haatch building in Stamford, viewed from Blackfriars Street. EMN-141109-142853001
A digital impression of the proposed Haatch building in Stamford, viewed from Blackfriars Street. EMN-141109-142853001
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A digital hub that will provide a base for new start-ups in Stamford and expects to create about 150 jobs has been given the green light.

A “delighted” Fred Soneya, co-founder of Haatch, the Stamford digital company behind the proposal, said: “We are over the moon.

“We’ve spent the last year working on this project and we’re very happy it’s been given planning permission.

“Now we can start the development.”

The controversial plans to redevelop the Lansbury Hall premises in Blackfriars and replace it with a five-storey building had come under intense fire from neighbouring residents.

They argued that the 
£2.5 million building was not in keeping with the rest of the properties in the area and would ruin the conservation area.

Lack of parking and loss of light were also among concerns echoed by Stamford Town Council, whose members voted unanimously to oppose the plans.

But on Tuesday, South Kesteven District Council, the local authority that makes the final decision, approved the application.

Co-founder of Haatch, Scott Weavers Wright, told the planning committee that The Hub was an economic opportunity for the town. He said he had worked with English Heritage and produced 20 different designs before mutually agreeing on the current one.

He also said it would bring many jobs to the area and establish Stamford as a key digital location.

Stating his case at the district council planning meeting on Tuesday, Stamford town councillor Harrish Bisnauthsing said: “I welcome the business but I’m against the current building plan because of its size.

“It will totally overshadow the tiny buildings in Blackfriars.”

Coun Bisnauthsing, who also expressed concern about the impact of the new business on traffic, asked: “What about the parking? There is no provision. The Wharf Road car park gets full very quickly on market days and Saturdays.”

A number of residents who live near the proposed building and representatives from the Civic Society were also given the opportunity to voice their concerns.

But planning officers recommended approval and the committee voted to approve the application.

Mr Soneya said: “We are looking forward to demolishing the old building and putting up a new one.

“It’s a 150-seater so there’s potential for up to 150 jobs which is exciting.

“We invest in businesses. So all the start-ups that are created within the hub will get financial support and mentorship from experts in the retail and digital sector

“We know that lots of people who commute to Peterborough, Cambridge and London will use the hub.”

Afterwards resident Lynne Almond described the decision as “very sad” for Stamford’s historical and iconic skyline.

Mrs Almond, who lives in Blackfriars Street and who pointed out the council had been sent 38 letters of objection, said: “The street was used in the films Middlemarch and Pride and Prejudice because of its intact Georgian architecture. The Hub will now destroy those historical views forever. It is an oppressive, bulky building within Stamford’s Residential and Conservation Area.”