CONDITIONAL planning permission has been granted for the demolition of a 1930s art deco house in Rhos-on-Sea.

Developers Commercial Development Management announced proposals in October for the property, at 57 Marine Drive, to be knocked down and replaced with five apartments and a car parking space.

At a planning meeting on January 12, members of Conwy County Borough Council voted 9-3 in favour of the demolition, despite widespread objections to the plans from elsewhere.

The discussion regarding the building at the planning meeting is available at: (starts at 57:30).

A council spokesperson confirmed that the resolution was: "Minded to grant conditional planning permission subject to a Section 106 agreement to secure the commuted sums for affordable housing and waste contributions.

"In the event that the Section 106 agreement is not completed within three months of the date of the committee’s determination (or such extended period as may be agreed in writing with the Development and Building Control Manager), to refuse planning permission."

An attempt to have the property become a listed building previously failed after Cadw, a Welsh Government service protecting historic buildings and structures, found it did not meet the full listing criteria.

At the meeting, Martin Austin, who set up the Conwy County Heritage Watch group, spoke against the demolition, calling for the building to be preserved and locally listed.

He said: “The heritage report produced by Cadnant Planning (which largely formed the basis for Cadw's report) has been criticised by a number of heritage groups including The Twentieth Century Society for seriously undervaluing the significance of the building.

"Cadnant Planning had two heritage reports. The first one, they withdrew when we criticised that it was, in fact, in favour of the developer. They edited it and submitted the second report, which is currently being used.”

Eleanor Carpenter, senior planner and heritage consultant at Cadnant Planning, spoke in favour of the building's demolition at the meeting.

She said: “Despite some of the comments made publicly, the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) is based on a significant amount of archival research, and does contain a factual report on the building and its condition.

“The building has suffered considerable lack of repair and maintenance by the previous owners over many years. Neglect of the building has, unfortunately, meant that all weather protection offered to the building has failed.

"This is not an acute issue with a short fix. It's been happening for many years and is irreversible at this stage of this building's life.

“The HIA identifies that, while of an interesting form, the house has unfortunately lost most of its character, both internally and externally.

“On balance, the heritage report identifies that it is appropriate, unforutantely in this instance, to demolish the property and erect a replacement in an art deco style, which it very much is now.”

The art deco house was also subject to a visit from council representatives the previous day (January 11).

Councillors Ken Stevens and Ifor Lloyd both took part in that visit, and both spoke in favour of its demolition.

Cllr Stevens (Pant yr Afon/Penmaenan ward) said: "I found it rather sad yesterday when we went to see this building.

"It's quite clear that, some time in the past, it was an iconic art deco building, but I think it’s a long time since that train left the station.

"What we saw was a husk. The inside has been gutted, the ceilings are falling down, there are cracks in the rendering everywhere.

"I think the time when this could have been saved has long gone."

Cllr Lloyd (Betws yn Rhos ward) added: "I, too, was on the visit yesterday, and it does make my heart bleed when you see an iconic-looking building like this so delapidated.

"I saw the structural cracks from the foundations as well, so it does break my heart, but this kind of building is unsafe.

"On health and safety grounds, if nothing else, we'd have to look at doing something with it, and if it's to be replaced with five properties, so be it."

Councillors Trevor Stott and Pauline Heap-Williams were among the three members to vote against its demolition.

Cllr Stott (Rhiw ward) said: “While I agree there were some problems with the internal (of the house), we’ve still got to remember the overall appearance.

“This is a heritage asset. It’s been supported by all the heritage consultees that have been approached, and if you look at the objections to this application, they are all to do with the demolition of a heritage asset. This building is of importance.

“This would be a very, very sad loss to Rhos-on-Sea and to Conwy if this building was allowed to be demolished. Therefore, I cannot support an application that includes the demolition of a heritage asset.”

Cllr Heap-Williams (Gele ward) added: “I agree with Cllr Trevor; I do think it’s a heritage property. It probably comes as no surprise to the planning officers, because I am a historian, and try to protect our buildings.

“There has been no report of the structural (issues) even though people say it appears to be falling down. Whether it is, we don’t know for sure.”

Clwyd West MS, Darren Millar, who has been supporting plans to save the property, expressed his disappointment that planning permission was granted for its demolition.

Mr Millar had also previously sent a letter to the Welsh Government’s deputy minister for arts and sport, Dawn Bowden, asking her to intervene to prevent the building from being lost.

He said: “It is a tragedy that, despite the strong case put forward for this prominent local building to be safeguarded, permission has now been granted to knock it down.

“As I stressed to the deputy minister for arts and sport, while the building is not yet listed, as few 20th century buildings are, it is included on the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW), which indicates the importance of the property to both local and national heritage here in Wales.

“This has been totally disregarded and I, like many others, am saddened that Rhos-on-Sea will now lose this iconic, much-loved building.

“We should be doing everything we can to protect such architecturally impressive buildings, not bulldozing them.”

The property, a large art deco private home, is situated on the route of the Rhos-on-Sea Heritage Walk on the promenade.

After a full Cadw inspection took place on November 10, the report also found that the building it was more likely the design of Mr William Evans, a builder who acquired the property in March 1935.

Previously, it was considered the work of architect Sidney Colwyn Foulkes, who was born and raised in Colwyn Bay, but the assessment could not find evidence to support this.

A statement from Cadnant Planning said: “JAR Architecture submitted the application for the demolition of The Breakers in Rhos-on-Sea and when it became clear that there were heritage issues with the application, Cadnant Planning were engaged to prepare a Heritage Impact Assessment in order to provide the additional information required. 

“A site visit was carried out, along with a considerable amount of research, and the Heritage Impact Assessment provided a realistic and factual account of the history and current condition of the building. 

“A second version of the report was issued to reflect the change in the proposed plans and additional information that had come to light, not for the reasons stated by those opposing the application. 

“Both Cadw and the planning committee members who visited the site broadly agreed with the contents of the report, whilst comments made opposing the application were made by those who had not had visited the site or been inside the building. 

“It is disappointing that much of the original publicity from those opposing the application related to the fact that they believed that the property was designed by Sidney Colwyn Foulkes, yet when the evidence showed otherwise, this inaccuracy was not recognised or acknowledged. 

“It is our view that the application was considered through the democratic planning process in a fair and considered manner, taking into account the relevant facts and planning policies and guidance.”

A statement from Conwy County Heritage Watch said: “In our opinion, Conwy’s planning committee has voted to support ‘vandalism’. We are shocked and disappointed by the committee's decision to allow such an action.

“We are grateful to Cllrs Trevor Stott, Austin Roberts and Pauline Heap-Williams for doing the right thing and attempting to save this well-loved local landmark.

“There was no evidence presented at committee to support claims that the building is beyond repair in its current state yet it is this factor that appears to have swung the vote.

“We were assured weeks ago by qualified assessors who had visited and assessed the building that the house needed some repair work but that it was in no way beyond repair.

“In fact, the asking price for the house had been dropped substantially, which would have covered these costs.

“In our opinion, the council's decision on this building demonstrates that no heritage asset is safe under this current council and planning department.

“This house is on Coflein, the online catalogue for the National Monuments Record for Wales. Many heritage experts and organisations approached  the council asking that this unique building be saved.

“More than 60 official objections were received. Cadw pointed out that its local value should not be ignored and suggested local listing and an article 4 direction could save the building.

“Conwy Council has a policy to locally list buildings of local interest but in seven years, they have failed to add one building to the list. This failure of duty cannot be allowed to continue.

“This building is a striking, well-loved local landmark in a prime position on the Rhos-on-Sea heritage trail. How many more buildings like this will we lose before something is done?”

Mr Austin started a petition to try and save the house, which earned 790 signatures (

The Twentieth Century (C20) Society, a charity campaigning for the preservation of 20th-century architecture, also submitted a written objection to the plans to Conwy County Borough Council.

A spokesperson for the C20 Society said: "It was sad news from the seaside this week, when Conwy planning committee voted 9-3 in favour of demolishing 57 Marine Drive – the pocket-sized art deco gem in Rhos-on-Sea.

"C20 Society has objected to the proposals and backed the vigorous grassroots campaign to save the house, which attracted the support of Cadw, the Royal Commission for Welsh Monuments Fund and celebrities from Griff Rhys Jones to Joan Bakewell.

"We firmly believe the house could be sympathetically restored and modernised where necessary, with an indication that refurbishment costs were even factored into the original selling price of the property.

"This would be by far the best outcome on environmental grounds and in enhancing the built heritage of the Conwy coast.

"No evidence was presented at the planning meeting to support the claim it was unrepairable, meanwhile the bland proposed replacement contributes nothing to the character of the area.

"This small but distinctive local landmark - designed to echo the proud maritime traditions of the area, with its striking prow looking out over Penrhyn Bay – deserves so much better than the bulldozer.

"We urge the council and applicants to think again."

The Welsh comedian, writer and presenter, Griff Rhys Jones OBE, and Baroness Joan Bakewell, had also shared their support for the campaign to preserve the building.