Fatcat property developers with links to Goldman Sachs are still attempting to bulldoze the old Corah’s site, a factory site which represents one of the most outstanding historic building complexes in Leicester. A recent frontpage article in the Leicester Mercury (July 16) noted:
“Controversial plans to demolish Leicester’s famous Corah factory have been condemned by a major UK heritage group. The Twentieth Century Society (C20) has weighed in on the ongoing debate over the future of the industrial buildings that were once the beating heart of the city.
“The C20 group has joined Historic England and Leicester Civic Society in slamming plans to knock down almost all of the former hosiery factory, known as St Margaret’s Works, off Burleys Way. It believes future generations will come to regret losing a “fantastic opportunity” to preserve and celebrate the city’s industrial heritage.”
“Coco Whittaker, of C20, slammed as ‘tokenistic’ the developers’ proposals to retain a ‘pair of chimneys and portions of the façade’ as heritage features.” She explained that the developers pretty much aim to bulldoze the entire site even the “applicant’s own structural engineers have concluded” that many of the parts of the factory designated for destruction are largely “structurally sound” or “Structurally in good condition”.
Of special concern, in the corner of the site that is closest to the new “net-zero” bus station, the fatcat properly developers plan to demolish all the existing structurally sound buildings so they can erect a 18 storey block of flats. But this insensitive act of cultural vandalism would be entirely out of keeping with earlier recommendations that were made by Leicester City Council itself, which suggested that developments in that part of the site should be no more than 5 stories high. Indeed, this sensible suggestion was made in a report that was published by the Council’s Urban Design Team in January 2020 which also pointed out that:
“There are 3 tall buildings or structures in the area; the two nationally designated churches of St. Margaret’s and St. Marks, and Thames tower. Due to their historic significance, ongoing dominance and formal designation the churches should remain the dominant buildings in the area. Thames tower would be considered an anomaly and would not be approved under the current policy context.” (p.13)
The Council report in question rather unsurprisingly asserts that most of the Corah’s site should be retained and not bulldozed. The authors of the report write: “Due to the notable history of the site and the architectural quality of much of the building stock that remains, the site has largely good to excellent heritage value and needs to be sensitively redeveloped.” (p.25) Later they add that “Given the stronger heritage and townscape value of the southern half of the site many of the buildings here should be retained.” (p.31)
The Urban Design Team report titled “St. Margaret’s Character Area Townscape Analysis & Design Guidance” (Evidence Document Draft v.9, Published in January 2020) states: “Historically, the [Corah] site has been occupied by St Margaret’s (Hosiery) Works. As a result of its historical significance the area is included in the Locally Listed Heritage Assets and covered by an Article 4 Direction. The Locally Listed status excludes the north-east corner of the site.” (p.21) This report, which was published in January 2020, was initially released as part of the documents accompanying Leicester City Council’s “draft Local Plan consultation” which was subsequently “postponed until future notice due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.”
The Corah site falls within Abbey ward and the three Labour councillors with responsibility for this ward are Cllr Annette Byrne, Cllr Manjit Kaur Saini, and Cllr Vijay Singh Riyait. Their email addresses are: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
The City Council planning application 20220709 can be viewed here and where there is also a Comments link https://planning.leicester.gov.uk/Planning/Display/20220709 For tips on what to write please read the “Corah Campaign – The Civic Society Response.”