PLANS to demolish a building to pave the way for the construction of 23 new flats have been approved.

An application proposing the demolition of the former Vicarage building on Palmyra Square, and for the properties to be built in its place, was approved by the council’s development management committee at its meeting on Thursday.

The current building is empty and boarded over.

The next scheme would see a six storey residential block built, made up of 17 one bed units and six two bed units. The proposal is for all of the units to be for affordable housing on a rent to buy basis. There would be no parking on-site however.

The neighbouring Knightsbridge Court is five storeys high.

The committee was told that the former vicarage building is in a ‘very poor state of repair’ having been vacant for ‘many years’ by the agent representing the applicant.

Committee member Cllr Brian Gallagher told the agent that he likes the quality of the building and believes it will fit in well in the area.

He added: “At our council meeting on Monday we passed a motion that we will be building in policy where we recommend sprinklers be fitted in buildings just like yours.

“I wonder, it’s not policy yet so we can’t do it, I wonder though if you may take back to the applicant and ask them to consider it?”

The agent told him that she can ‘certainly’ ask them to consider it, with it being something she can ‘pass forward’.

Committee member Cllr Bob Barr said he is ‘very happy’ with what is being proposed,

He added: “The one thing I am concerned about is your emphasis on affordability because this is going to be rent to buy, it’s going to be the jackpot for the people who rent and manage to buy because at that stage it will no longer be affordable, so there’s no scheme for this to be affordable in perpetuity, as I understand it.”

He was told Torus will be the registered provider taking over the scheme, and that it was their ‘desire’ for this type of affordable housing ‘which in terms of Homes England and in terms of the local authority, is classified as affordable housing’.

The committee approved the application, as recommended.