FIRST stages of the Maltings rejuvenation in Salisbury have been given the green light to build a library, gym and hotel on Fisherton Street.

This is the first phase of the Maltings redevelopment in the city centre, including its car parks.

Wiltshire Council backed the plans, which will see shops in Fisherton Street knocked down and replaced with a new library, gym, café and hotel.

The area includes empty shops on the corner of Fisherton Street / Malthouse Lane and Malthouse Lane / Priory Square, all built in the 1970s.

The previous application was rejected after councillors ruled that the size and design would not fit in with the character of the area.

Near the United Reformed Church, there were also worried listed buildings would be affected.

The near building is lower than the previously refused with three not four storeys and a new café veranda style fronting.

Cllr Stewart Dobson was one of the councillors to block plans and revealed he had experienced abuse as a result of slowing down the Maltings project.

He said: "I am pleased to see that after turning the first plans down, this new application has listened to our concerns.

"We received frankly abusive and nasty comments from councillors for Salisbury area and I hope they now know we have made the right decision to turn down the first one as we now have this new one which has been applauded by Heritage England."

However resident Steve Fear said people remained concerns over the location of the library. He said: "This proposal gives us more concern that the library relocation will be made permanent and not remain in the existing location where we feel it is more appropriate."

Cabinet member Toby Sturgis said: "Pauline Church and the cabinet are in support of this and believe it is critical for the recovery of Salisbury."

Pauline Church, Cabinet Member for South Wiltshire Recovery, said: "This approval signals the exciting first step in the regeneration of this important site and will bring an enhanced retail, leisure and residential offer benefitting our residents, businesses and visitors. 

"This is the start of Salisbury's journey. We have an ambitious programme of projects in the pipeline that will boost the city's economy and provide an environment that will support culture, retail, learning and social interaction with the aim of making Salisbury a destination of choice."

Councillor John Farquhar, Chairman of the Salisbury City Council Planning Committee said: "When I saw this third application, I just said "Wow!" 

"I was delighted and impressed that the architects had listened to the critics of their earlier designs, taken the concerns onboard, and produced a truly stunning, exciting and stylish concept that not only addresses my committee's concerns, but will give the Salisbury community a building - containing library, hotel and fitness services - of which we can be proud. 

"The reduction in the building's height from four floors to three was the icing on the cake.  Well done to the design team!"

Labour councillor Ian Tomes expressed his concerns for city planning, though: "It is worrying that without the effort of labour councillors and others, a third rate design would have been approved for this site.

"Many residents do have concerns about the new approved design, and also have grave concerns about the future of the library, reference library along with the Young Gallery. 

"Much of this, is still to be resolved in terms of both temporary and permanent relocation and its only reasonable to say that residents should know where they are going.

"There seems to be a desire among the ruling Conservative group to 'just change things' without care, consideration including considering the consequences of rushing things through, all of which has proved that this approach fails to bring the public on board with them.

"Often, the devil is in the detail, and we've yet to see the detail over this Maltings redevelopment.  I believe it is far better not to rush things through, but to take time, be well thought out and have the support of our residents.  If it's worth doing, it should be done properly."