SAVE Britain's Heritage has been granted permission by the Court of Appeal to challenge the controversial demolition plans for Garway's historic 1877 Victorian school building. Local residents have been fervently protesting the decision, and now, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched to support the legal battle.
Designed by local architect E.H. Lingen Barker, the gothic-style school in Herefordshire has been an essential part of the village's heritage for over a century. Recent successful conversions of similar buildings, like the 1877 school in nearby Norton Skenfrith, have inspired hope for Garway's Old School building.
The Court of Appeal decision comes after a sustained campaign against Herefordshire Council's April 2022 decision to allow the demolition under a planning loophole called Permitted Development Rights (PDR). If successful, SAVE's legal challenge could set a precedent for protecting thousands of other historic buildings across the country.
The public hearing for the substantive appeal will take place on May 25, 2023, at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand. SAVE hopes to demonstrate that the demolition was approved without following the correct process. Leading planning barrister Richard Harwood OBE KC and solicitor Susan Ring of Harrison Grant Ring, who represented SAVE during the previous High Court ruling, will represent them again at the hearing in May.
Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain's Heritage, stated, "We are delighted the Court of Appeal has now granted us permission to proceed with the appeal. This case raises important issues around the rights of owners to demolish buildings without full planning permission."
SAVE's ultimate goal is to see the historic building sustainably reused while preserving Garway's history and character, and providing attractive new housing for the village. With the support of the community and the backing of the Court of Appeal, Garway's Old School may have a fighting chance at a new lease on life.