Major planning applications - Tricorn House
Tricorn House in Cainscross has stood empty for many years, despite extensive efforts by Stroud District Council and partners to encourage the owners to bring it back in to use. Ownership changed at the end of 2022 and the building is being refurbished for residential use. It is a site with issues which concern many people. Here are answers to questions which are often asked about it.
Tricorn House was built in the early 1970’s and was used as an office building for the Government Department of Health and Social Security. It was vacated in 1996 and has been largely empty since that time, falling into disrepair and becoming increasingly derelict. The site has had a number of different planning consents to be redeveloped over the years, but none of these have been progressed by the owners, until now. The current planning consent that is being implemented is for a conversion of the building into 44 residential apartments.
Viladnik Holdings Ltd. It has owned the building since the end of 2022. Stroud District Council has never owned the building.
The owners (Viladnik Holdings Ltd) has employed a team of contractors to redevelop the site.
There is a 'Permitted Development' consent to convert the building into residential apartments. Permitted development rights are a national grant of planning permission which allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without having to make a planning application. Instead, applicants submit a Prior Notification to the council. Permitted development rights are subject to conditions and limitations to control impacts and to protect local amenity. A condition of this consent is that the development must be completed by the end of May 2023.
Stroud District Council officers visited the site on 31st May 2023 to assess the works carried out.
On examining the site, partitions to divide the building into the residential units has been installed. All 44 of the units had a bathroom installed and 43 of the units has a kitchen installed.
It is a matter of fact and degree as to whether the development has resulted in a material change of use of the building. The site visit clearly established that the building no longer, nor could reasonably be used as, offices on entering the building. Someone with no prior knowledge would think they had entered a block of flats.
The council has concluded that the change of use occurred before 28th May 2023 and that the level of works undertaken meet, at this stage the requirements of the prior notification.
A separate planning application was made for new windows and entrance to the building, as well as a structure to house bats. This is because bats are present in the building and they are a protected species.
The current consent for the building provides 34 parking spaces for the 44 residential units. The permitted development process did not require car parking to be provided in accordance with normal parking standards. The site is small, so there is limited opportunity to provide any more than 34 spaces.
The owners have said that there will have been substantial progress towards completion by the end of May but the date of full completion is not yet known.
As outlined above, significant works have been undertaken. The exact completion completion date is not known but it is anticipated to be in 2023.
The developer will abide by the considerate constructor’s scheme and will regularly keep Stroud District Council officers up to date with works on site.
Stroud District Council’s main role is as the Local Planning Authority, responsible for ensuring that the building is developed in line with the relevant planning consents. The Council has also represented the long-standing community concerns about the building when encouraging owners to progress with the redevelopment.
Stroud District Council has been in regular dialogue with the different owners over recent years, reminding them of their responsibilities for the safety and security of the building and supporting their plans – as far as possible - to bring it back into positive use for our community.
Stroud District Council cannot purchase a building unless the owners wish to sell. The previous owners would not allow Stroud District Council access to the site to value it, to potentially make an offer for the building. There is a legal power known as a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) that Stroud District Council attempted to use to force the owners to sell the building (in 2008), but this was not successful. Efforts since that time have focused on encouraging owners to redevelop the site using the various planning consents that have been granted by Stroud District Council.
A building can only be demolished if the owners want to demolish and have the necessary consent. Previous owners have had planning permission to convert the building, but these plans have not been implemented. The works that are now under way (Feb/March 2023) are being carried out under a ‘Permitted Development’ consent. The Council can only demolish a building that it does not own and/or control, if it is an unsound structure. Tricorn House is not regarded as an unsound structure.
A planning application for a bat mitigation structure has been received (see above). This is in accordance with a licence from Natural England.
The owners have no plans to use Tricorn House for this purpose. Once the redevelopment is completed, the owners have confirmed that they will advertise and sell the apartments on the open residential market.
The developer is part of the Considerate Contractor scheme and can be reached on 020 8802 1102 or 07511 050 741