Emergency action has been taken to halt works in a conservation area due to the part-removal of a piece of local heritage without planning permission.
Middlesbrough Council planning enforcement officers have immediately stepped in to stop work on the Pybus Brothers Building on the corner of Oxford Road and Roman Road in Linthorpe which is home to the Tesco Express store.
The authority received reports today from Linthorpe ward councillor Steve Bloundele and members of the public that a balustrade on the Oxford Road wing of the building had been removed.
Planning permission is required for changes to the frontage of any commercial property with conservation areas given extra protection through the planning process.
Conservation areas are described as areas having “special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance”.
They are designated by local councils and their status means consent is needed for alterations which would not be normally required. It also gives councils the powers to refuse work which would be detrimental to local heritage.
Cllr Margaret Walters, chair of Middlesbrough Council’s planning committee, said: “Council officers in planning enforcement and conservation have halted works while we investigate the matter. They will be holding discussions with the developers today as a matter of urgency.”
Cllr Bloundele said: “The Pybus Brothers building tells a story both of Linthorpe’s past and a piece of Middlesbrough’s history and I was alarmed and angry to see part of the balustrade removed.
“Myself, fellow councillors and Linthorpe residents have worked hard over the years to develop and maintain the Conservation Area status to protect pieces of heritage such as this.
“I am pleased Council officers stepped in so quickly before any more damage has been caused and I hope the balustrade can be reinstated.”
The Pybus Brothers were Middlesbrough grocers who set up in business in around 1900.
Their name is still set in stone above the Tesco store – in the heart of the Linthorpe Conservation Area – albeit today the ‘P’ is missing.