Bank told to take down 'ugly' units

A HIGH Street bank has been threatened with enforcement action after it illegally erected noisy and “ugly” air conditioning units on an historic building.

Richard Smith

A HIGH Street bank has been threatened with enforcement action after it illegally erected noisy and “ugly” air conditioning units on an historic building.

Barclays Bank, in Church Street, Woodbridge, has been warned that Suffolk Coastal District Council will take action to ensure the units are removed from the Grade II* listed building.

The bank put up the five external condenser units and associated pipe work without planning permission or Listed Building Consent on the building, parts of which date to the 16th Century.


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It prompted complaints from conservation body English Heritage, Suffolk Coastal District Council's environmental health department, a neighbour and town councillors.

Now Suffolk Coastal's development control south committee has decided to refuse a retrospective application for planning permission and to authorise officers to take enforcement action.

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English Heritage said the units were unsightly and the pipe work was “intrusive” and “together they detract from the character of the listed building”.

Environmental health officers discovered that the buzzing noise from the units was loud enough to disturb nearby residents.

One unit is only six feet away from a neighbour's kitchen window and a complainant told Suffolk Coastal: “The units were installed at the start of 2008 and became operational in February 2008 and we have had to suffer with this nuisance throughout the summer.

“Barclays do not appear to be making any effort to address the issue, other than submitting a retrospective application.”

Planning officers warned that the units detracted from the “special character and quality of the listed building as the five units and their cabling are poorly positioned, visually intrusive and have no screening”.

Barclays said the units are required for heating, cooling and ventilation because the opening of windows is restricted.

A spokeswoman for Barclays said yesterday the company aimed to have a meeting with Suffolk Coastal's officers to work out a way to resolve the problems.

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