Mail depot demolition ‘did breach the rules’

12-522    Demolition at the old Royal Mail site, Paradise, Hemel Hempstead.
12-522 Demolition at the old Royal Mail site, Paradise, Hemel Hempstead.

COUNCIL bosses have confirmed the demolition of the old Royal Mail building has breached planning regulations – but no action will be taken.

Dacorum Borough Council says housing association Hightown did not get prior approval for aspects of the work, which has provoked anger from conservationists who say the building has ‘architectural merit’ and should be preserved.

The Twentieth Century Society says it will be investigating how the demolition went ahead when it had written to the council highlighting the building’s heritage importance.

Senior conservation advisor Christina Malathouni said: “We want to see that the decision was made consistently with all the factors that should be taken into consideration, and we haven’t seen that.”

The council, which has a councillor representative on the board of Hightown, said in a statement: “After a thorough investigation, and having considered detailed legal advice, we have concluded that the current demolition of the former Royal Mail sorting office is a breach of planning control.

“This breach relates to the requirement for prior approval of details on the method of demolition and the restoration of the site.

“We have therefore concluded that it would not be in the public interest to take formal action. Excluding any breach of planning control, there is no increased risk to public safety as details relating to the demolition have been separately agreed by the council’s Building Control service.”

Hightown, which partners the council on many housing schemes, plans to build 85 affordable homes and a self storage facility.