Historic Kenilworth building The Wantage up for conversion again

Fresh plans to convert the historic Kenilworth building The Wantage into two apartments have been recommended for refusal by district council officers.

Monday, 21st March 2016, 12:12 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2016, 12:30 pm
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In their summary, the officers claim the plans would be ‘inherently harmful to the integrity’ of the Grade II listed building located in Castle Hill.

However, Kenilworth Town Council voiced no objections to the plans, in contrast to its objection to a previous proposal in July 2012 to convert the Wantage into four apartments instead of two, which was eventually refused.

A spokesman for the town council said: “Members are very concerned about the continuing deterioration of this important Grade II listed building in a sensitive site and look forward to a suitable solution.

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“Members commented that whilst they had no reason to object, they were concerned that this was a limited proposal which did not deal with the whole of the site.

“Conditions should be applied to ensure that the gardens are conserved.”

The public response was mostly positive, with many suggesting the proposals are a good opportunity to restore the building.

Objections have been raised by Warwickshire Gardens Trust, which points out the building’s garden is included on Warwick District Council’s (WDC) local list, meaning it has recognised it as historically and aesthetically significant.

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In a statement, the trust said: “Few examples of such ensembles designed by architects of national standing have survived in the Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield and the Warwickshire area, and as such it is advised that particular sensitivity should be given to the future management and conservation of The Wantage.”

The trust also suggests the building should be used for single-occupancy, claiming it is ‘not unrealistic’ to propose such a solution.

An appeal to overturn the 2012 conversion plans was dismissed by the Planning Inspector in 2013, and another refused plan to build a two-and-a-half storey building on its grounds in 2004 was also dismissed at appeal.

The Wantage was originally built in 1901 by architects Buckland and Farmer, and nobody knows exactly how the building got its name.

A lot of its original features still remain, including a servant switchboard and pull down sinks.

The cellar and outbuilding were also once a thriving sausage business and the original casing house still stands.

A decision on the application will be made at the next WDC planning meeting on Tuesday March 29.