Penrith Town Council has lodged an objection to planning permission being granted for the transformation of Voreda House into a zero carbon public service hub.
However, last night town councillors refused to back a call for the district authority to halt all plans for its redevelopment.
In its objection to the planning application, as currently proposed, the town council states that the design and character and the artificial cladding on three walls does not enhance the area, as the proposed panels are too large and regimented and the use of three different colours is too harsh.
“Reducing the height of the wall to Coronation Gardens will remove the quiet and peaceful community space appreciated by the community.
“To preserve the peace and tranquillity of Coronation Gardens, the wall should be retained.
“We would definitely not wish to see Coronation Gardens opened up and subsumed into this development,” the planning objection states.
After the planning committee meeting, held last week, town councillor Jonathan Davies tabled a motion calling on Eden District Council to put plans for the redevelopment of Voreda House on hold until the outcome of the proposed reorganisation of local government in Cumbria is completed and the future of the district council is established and concluded.
Speaking at the extraordinary meeting held online to discuss the motion, Mr Davies said: “Potentially the very existence of Eden Council as a district authority is at threat and a new council covering a wider area may be established, drastically changing the local authority framework in Eden and the requirements for assets such as Voreda House in Penrith.”
However, Penrith county councillor Pat Bell told councillors that no matter what council they represent, they would be failing in their duty if, when unitary comes, they were not fighting for a significant local government building in Penrith or in Eden.
“That new council is going to want to a building that offers an efficient office space in an environmentally-friendly building which can be cheaply run,” said Mrs Bell.
Scott Jackson, who chairs the town council’s planning committee, said: “This time last week I was of the similar opinion to that espoused by this motion.
“We discussed it in the planning committee and on the face of it, it didn’t make sense for an organisation which may not be long for this world to be seeking new offices.
“However, on closer inspection, and after talking to a few people, I’m inclined to think the opposite is true.”
Mr Jackson said the Passivhaus standard retrofit to the existing office building would generate “top level efficiency with low level running costs”.
He said the building also had space to accommodate outlets for other organisations, which could bring in £30,000 a year in rental income, and because of the green credentials of the plan, there was also a conditional government grant of £856,000 on offer to help pay for the refit.
The motion tabled by Mr Davies was defeated by seven votes to three, with two abstentions.