Local developers have been given the green light to repurpose a historic central Hereford building.
Manbro Developments needed listed building consent to create three business units on the ground and first floor of the vacant grade II* listed Booth Hall on East Street.
It is described as one of the city’s finest medieval buildings, with a “magnificent” timber-framed mid-fifteenth century main hall on the first floor.
Last used as a hotel and music venue, the building closed in 2017 and was bought by Manbro in 2020, when it had permission for the ground floor to become a restaurant along with eight guest rooms on the upper floors.
However the company was unable to find a tenant for the planned restaurant, hence the revised plan for three separate units, with new partitions and suspended ceilings.
These will be accessed through existing doors, and will be “easily reversible should future need dictate”, a statement with the application said.
An early-2000’s steel spiral staircase and balustrade will also be removed.
Government advisor Historic England said: “Overall, we have no objection to the proposals and welcome the re-use of this important building.”
The plan would require “minimal disturbance to the historic plan form and its magnificent timber-framed hall”, it added.
But the council’s historic building officer (HBO) Debra Lewis said she did not consider that the building “will be enhanced by the proposals”, and had particular concerns over the height of one new ceiling – despite several sets of amended plans and drawings have already been submitted.
However granting listed building consnt, planning officer Simon Rowles concluded: “The public benefit of bringing this part of the building back into commercial use is significant and is considered to outweigh the harm identified by the HBO in this case.”
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