A former World War Two US Army postal depot has survived a planning battle even though city bosses would like to see it demolished.
The derelict building, on the edge of Sutton Coldfield Town Centre, has been saved from the bulldozers thanks to English Heritage protection which says it is 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, bordering 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), chairwoman of the council’s conservation panel, was the only member to speak up for the depot, saying: “This building has English Heritage listing and there is a reason for it.”
English Heritage argues that the building’s shed-like basic construction is a sign of its wartime background.
The committee were told that if they backed demolition, the decision would be handed to the Government and English Heritage, which has made it clear it wants the depot preserved.
They urged Royal Mail, as owner of the site, to apply to English Heritage to have the preservation order lifted if it wants to see the building demolished.
The depot was built by the US forces in 1942 to sort all the post between soldiers, sailors and airmen on the European front line and their families and sweethearts across the Atlantic. Since the war it has been used by Royal Mail, but has recently fallen into disrepair and it is thought it would cost more than £2 million to restore.
Although this first planning application has been refused, Royal Mail has submitted a second one under which fewer houses are to be built and half of the depot is restored, reused and preserved. This will be considered by the planning committee in the next few weeks.