Plans to bring historic Alnwick property back into use are welcomed

Plans to breathe new life into the former home of Dickinsons in Alnwick town centre have been welcomed by a conservation expert.

Saturday, 28th September 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 12:54 pm
The former Dickinsons shop on Fenkle Street, Alnwick.

Northumbria Property Developments Ltd (NPDL) is seeking permission to turn the Grade II listed Fenkle Street property into seven holiday flats and two retail units.

Its change of use application is similar in nature to a 2006 scheme which was granted approval but never happened.

Ian McCaffery, building conservation officer at Northumberland County Council, said: “Although the building has undergone significant change since its original construction the level of survival of historic detail is good overall.

The frontage of the former Dickinsons shop was turned into a fictional bank for TV show The Heist.

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“The scheme as proposed respects the surviving historic detail with most change centred on the rear less significant parts of the property.”

Dickinsons closed in October 2017 and the company, which also had furniture stores in Hexham and Carlisle, went into administration two months later.

In a report accompanying the new application, architect Simon Timperley, states: “NPDL have contacted various parties prior to submission of this application in order to gauge the level of support for these proposals and the reactions have been entirely in favour, particularly given the prominent nature of the building and the fact that in the current economic climate it is unlikely that a tenant or buyer would be found to continue the retail use throughout such a large premises

“However, Alnwick is a thriving market town with a strong tourist trade and therefore there is a market for smaller independent retailers and other high street uses. To that end it is proposed that retail use will be retained on the ground floor of the building whilst the rest of it is converted to provide holiday let accommodation in the form of seven flats to meet the burgeoning demand in the town.

“The character and features of the heritage asset are its selling point and therefore the works will be carried out so as to minimise the impact and restore some of the character by infilling some later openings and separating the building internally from the rear offshoot.”