Open letter to Cllr Fiona Thomson
Dear Cllr Thomson,
Your recent utterances on the planning application for the Shredded Wheat North site by The Wheat Quarter have created a mixture of surprise and puzzlement. Certainly, the WGC Heritage Trust was surprised and so I invite you to help us understand what you mean and why you are suggesting the silos should be demolished.
Following the Tesco rejection, the council prepared a design statement (SPD) for the site that laid out its aims as a guide for developers, such as a maximum height for any building of 5 storeys.
Question: Why has this policy been totally ignored? Is there a new SPD and if so, what is it and when was it passed by council?
Some residents might not see the heritage value because the whole site looks dirty and uncared for at present. A condition of the consent granted in 2019 was that the buildings should be cleaned and painted regularly.
Question: Why has the council failed to enforce these conditions as was its duty?
A particular comment from members of the public who are puzzled is why the suggestion has come out of the blue.
Question: Why, at this time, is a very senior member of the Conservative administration and longstanding member for Handside ward, which, with Peartree, is the original town centre, suddenly proposing demolition of the major landmark?
Further bewilderment arises from your timing and choice occasion.
Question: Why was such a major policy change suggested in a Full Council meeting about the District Local Plan? Why was it felt appropriate to do so?
Further uncertainty is about the what Cllr Thomson’s idea actually offers.
Question: Will there be any reduction in tower heights or increase in open spaces? If so how much?
Normally announcements or proposals about planning would be made by the Executive Member responsible.
Question: Why is the proposal to demolish the silos being made by a councillor who is neither the member for the ward in which the silos are, nor the relevant executive member?
The Grade 2 listing covers the entire site. The silos are not listed separately so any request to demolish the silos will need them to be separated. All changes to listing require consent from Historic England.
Question: Have you or anyone else spoken with Historic England about the demolition you are proposing and if not why not?
From our knowledge any request to demolish is likely to take a very long time in view of the number of parties that would have to be consulted, together with all the unsolicited emails that will result, and there is a strong likelihood of rejection at the end.
Yours in anticipation
WGC Heritage Trust
SOME FACTS FOR READERS
• The silos and the building are Grade 2 listed which means permission from Historic England must be obtained before any proposal can even be considered.
• Any request to delist the silos will be opposed by a raft of organisations, national, and international, local heritage groups and a significant number of town planners and individuals worldwide.
• The Shredded Wheat factory was synonymous with the town leading to the nickname of ‘The Wheat’ as a destination on the East Coast Mainline.
• The Shredded Wheat Company and its silos have been an essential element in the history of the town since 1926 and, when clean and freshly painted, provide a standout identifier for England’s Second Garden City.
Given all the facts and the questions outlined is this a genuine proposal or just a distraction?