A council chief has leapt to the defence of conservation officers at Mansfield District Council after they were heavily criticised during a recent planning meeting.
During discussions about an application to improve the Post Office shop front in Warsop, a number of councillors disagreed with the conservation officers’ recommendation that the application should be rejected because the new powder-coated metal front did not fit in with conservation guidelines.
Coun Andy Wetton questioned if the officers were doing their job properly and Coun John Kerr described the situation as a ‘joke’.
They felt a decision to turn down what they saw as an improvement to the shop front could only drive away much-needed business from the town.
But Martyn Saxton, head of planning and regulatory services, said: “The council’s conservation officers work hard to uphold the national and local conservation guidelines and policies, which have been agreed by the district council.
“The council has a duty to preserve and enhance its conservation areas and the officers have this in mind when providing advice to developers, council planning officers and members, in order to achieve high quality developments that enhance our historic buildings and areas.
“An example of just some of the successful projects our conservation officers have provided advice and support on, include the Grade II Listed Maltings on Midworth Street, which has now been brought back into use, and the restoration of the Grade II listed Westfield Folkhouse.
“Thanks to the hard work and expertise of our officers, substantial grants have been secured to restore and bring back into use historical buildings and structures across the district. Since 2001 at least 12 properties have received over £94,700 of conservation grants in Warsop to support businesses.
“Over the past six years in Mansfield town centre, six properties have received grants to support work to reinstate historical features. This is on top of a lottery backed £2.2million Townscape Heritage initiative, between 2003 and 2007, to carry out repairs and restoration to historic property in the town centre including the railway viaduct and improvements to Church Street.”