Old Royal Mail site demolition ‘unacceptable’

12-522    Demolition at the old Royal Mail site, Paradise, Hemel Hempstead.
12-522 Demolition at the old Royal Mail site, Paradise, Hemel Hempstead.

DEMOLITION work at the old Royal Mail site in Hemel Hempstead has provoked outrage from a conservation group.

The Twentieth Century Society says it is ‘unacceptable’ that diggers have moved onto the site despite appeals to council chiefs to preserve the building.

The society says the building is ‘of special architectural interest’, likened to ‘a giant caterpillar crawling up the hill’.

Senior conservation adviser Christina Malathouni said: “This has started without permission. This is really unacceptable.

“We hope the council will stop it. We think they have the power to do that and we expect them to do that.”

The society wrote to Dacorum Borough Council on May 9, who said a Notification of Demolition had been submitted on April 16 but it was incomplete and more information was required.

But last Wednesday diggers appeared on the Park Lane site, where housing association Hightown is building 85 homes.

Alex Chrusciak, group manager for development management at the council, said: “There is a question over whether a formal planning application is needed for this demolition.

“The site owners claim that we failed to issue our formal response within the required time frame. If no formal response is given by the council within the specified time the applicant has ‘deemed’ approval and does not require formal planning permission before commencing works. We are currently investigating and taking legal advice on our position.

“If a breach of planning control has occurred, we will need to assess the situation and consider the appropriate scale and nature of any enforcement action.”

In a statement Hightown said: “Following an application to demolish the existing building made to the council in April, work started to clear the site towards the end of May.”