A SCHEME to knock down and replace a long-empty, ‘eyesore’ block of flats in Ross-on-Wye has been approved by planners.

The three-storey Riverview Flats block in Wye Street, dating from the early 1970s and located within the town’s conservation area, has been empty for eight years and is now “in a very poor state of repair” according to the applicant, Gloucestershire developer DP Rollings.

Its previous design for a four-storey replacement block was refused in March 2021, then an appeal dismissed by a government inspector a year later.

Its new lower-key modern design for the prominent spot was for six two-bedroom flats in the three upper floors, with the ground-floor being used for parking as at present.

This has now met with county planners’ approval – but has divided the opinions of local people with the planning authority receiving 19 letters of support and 12 opposing it.

Helen Shimwell said that the retained four-storey plan “is much too high”, a view shared by other town residents.

And Judith Baugh felt that without more of a nod to the street’s existing architecture in the building’s design, “a valuable opportunity for responsible conservation will be missed”.

Roy Cooke added it was “shameful” that the existing flats were “allowed go to ruin without any action from the council while green land is being rescheduled for development”.

But Andy Robinson wrote: “Please allow this development to go ahead, otherwise how much longer will this beautiful riverside location be allowed to remain an embarrassment to the town?”

And James Thorpe said that the refusal of previous redevelopment plans down the years has “ensured that a derelict eyesore remains” – and that “the perfect should not be the enemy of the good”.

The county’s ecology officer demanded that a bat mitigation report be establishing that there would be no impact on bats, which are to be given ‘a large void’ on the ground floor, and other protected species.

Its building conservation officer concluded the plan would not adversely impact on the listed building next door and the wider conservation area.