COUNCILLORS have supported controversial plans for the first phase of the Maltings development.

The revised plans for 30-36 Fisherton Street, the former British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Original Factory Shop block, were discussed by Salisbury City Council’s planning committee on Monday.

The application for a 86-room hotel, library, gym and restaurant, which was submitted last December, sparked concerns over the size and relocation of the library as well as design and impact on the conservation area leading to plans being revised.

Five councillors supported the application while three voted against it. Concerns were raised over the design and height of the building, which sparked fears it would “break” the Salisbury Skyline policy, known as the 40-foot rule.

Councillor Ian Tomes questioned the uniqueness of the design and arguments in support of the development centred on moving the city forward and being competitive. He said: “We have the cathedral and the Stones and we have the fact that due to the low height of the newer buildings in the city we are very much perceived by many people as a quintessential, typical English Cathedral city.

“ We have to compete with cities like Bath and Oxford both with their unique architecture and their unique feel. Once we start to erode that uniqueness which is part of our Salisbury we lose are competitiveness. We become just like anywhere.”

Councillor Tom Corbin added: “Personally, I don’t want something that’s a bit grey I want something that stands out. If we are going to knock down the library and replace it with something we should at least have it as something that is a bit iconic for Salisbury and has a bit of passion and love about it.”

Councillor John Walsh likened the design to an “oversized pillbox”.

But, Councillor Atiqul Hoque said the design looked “much better” and architects had “listened” and addressed concerns.

Councillor John Barber said it was a “modern design” although “not the most exciting” but said there was a “desperate need” for a new location for the library and “affordable” hotel accommodation.

Cllr Tomes said it conflicted with a number of core planning policies. In terms of the 40ft policy, he said: “Once this rule is broken there is no going back.”

This was echoed by Cllrs John Walsh and Tom Corbin.

As part of the re-design the large scale brick panel has been removed and the brick colour has been changed for the ground floor level.

The size of the library has now been changed to 9,626sq ft. The original space planned had been about 5,983 sq ft.

But Ian Williams, of architect firm Haskoll who have produced the designs for the applicants, said the proposals would not “impact” on the views of the cathedral and the height and shape of the building had been revised.

Councillor Stephen Berry said: “It is our chance to make the Maltings happen.”

The meeting heard the size of the library had increased.

Cllr Corbin said: “I’m enraged that we’re quite prepared to roll something just on the basis of trying to make some sort of progress on something that could still still at any point. There is no guarantees for anything in the future Maltings development . This isn’t the key to unlocking absolutely everything.”

Councillor Sven Hocking said the current BHF building was “terrible” and “serves no purpose”, adding: “Lets not look at what we have but look forward to what we can have and what we will have.

“This is a really exciting opportunity. Opportunities like this come once in a generation, probably two generations. We may not get an opportunity to do this ever again so we need to grab it with both hands and take it.”

The final decision to approve or reject the plans will be made by Wiltshire Council.

  • The Maltings Masterplan is due to be discussed by Wiltshire Council’s Strategic Planning Committee next week.