A 400-year old townhouse in the historic centre of Bristol was the subject of an appeal following the local authority’s decision to refuse planning permission for the building’s upper floors to be converted to student accommodation.

The proposal was highly controversial and generated a significant amount of public interest, after a 17th Century ornate Jacobean pendant ceiling was removed a day before an inspection was due to take place to spot list it for its protection. Not only did this cause public outrage, but local MP Thangam Debbonaire also commented on the demolition stating she was “absolutely furious”. The developer meanwhile, stated that the ceiling had to be removed “for safety reasons”.

During the appeal, Planning Inspector J P Tudor stated that Bristol City Council’s arguments were “vague, generalised and, at some points, confused” and was not persuaded by the council’s reason for refusal. Overall, and not withstanding the “unfortunate” harm caused to the historic ceiling, Tudor concluded that the proposal adheres to both local and national planning policies and should be allowed. A full award of costs against the local planning authority was also ordered.

The proposal for the building, last used as a bar, with offices and flats above, involved the conversion of the upper floors into student accommodation, with the bar use retained on the ground floor, and thanks to a successful appeal this development can now proceed.

01 August 2018