A former Second World War US Army postal depot has survived a planning battle – even though city bosses would like to see it demolished.
The building, on the edge of Sutton Coldfield town centre, was saved from the bulldozers thanks to English Heritage protection which said it was a “valuable heritage asset”.
A majority of planning committee members were happy to see it replaced with a smaller, modern sorting office and new houses on the leafy Upper Clifton Road site, which borders Sutton Park.
Coun Keith Linnecor (Lab, Oscott) said: “That building has no quality. It could come down tomorrow and I don’t think anyone would grieve. But I am concerned about the loss of trees and impact on wildlife.”
Coun John Clancy (Lab, Quinton) added: “The historic value is intellectual and can be reflected in a heritage display in the new office, the building itself has no historic merit.”
Coun Paula Smith (Lib Dem, Hall Green), chairman of the council’s conservation panel, was the only member to speak up for the depot.
“This building has English Heritage listing and there is a reason for it,” she said.
The conservation organisation has argued that the building’s shed-like basic construction is a sign of its wartime background.
The committee was told the decision would be handed to the Government and English Heritage if members backed demolition. They urged site owner Royal Mail to apply to English Heritage to have the preservation order lifted if it wanted the building demolished.
The depot was built by the US forces in 1942 to sort post sent to soldiers, sailors and airmen on the European front line from their families across the Atlantic.
But now much of it has fallen into disrepair and restoration costs have been put at £2 million. Although the first planning application was refused, Royal Mail has submitted a second one containing a scheme for fewer houses and the restoration of half the depot. That will be considered by the planning committee in the next few weeks.