Plans to turn former offices in 19th-century building into apartments

Barrington House and other properties on Yarm Lane which are the subject of a planning application for apartments
-Credit: (Image: Google)

A developer has asked for planning permission to turn offices and a former mayor's home in a 19th-century building into flats.

The Victorian grade II listed buildings including Barrington House on Yarm Lane, Stockton will be changed from their last use as offices under the proposals. Developer Knight Wood Assets wants to bring the adjoining empty buildings back into residential use with 28 apartments.

The developer says the one and two-bed and studio flats would be "generally acceptable in the town centre location, bringing a vacant building of historic importance back into a viable active use", according to its agent. It says it will keep surviving historic features and not extend or change the outside appearance as it applied for planning and listed building consent for the conversion.

The buildings are two and three storeys with partial basements and some attics. They were built as Stockton grew in the late 19th century "as larger residential properties for the emerging middle class", says DMS Architecture in a design and access statement.

They later became offices until the last occupier left in 2023. The buildings consist of more than 100 rooms and spaces, with rooms facing the main road containing "the most elaborate features (with most in a relatively good condition".

Archaeological consultants AB Heritage said the buildings had been occupied by a string of "professional and entrepreneurial people" - a brewer with two live-in servants, a mechanical engineer, a mineral water plant proprietor, and a cooper and basket maker who was mayor of Stockton in 1899. They were later combined to form business premises, including an accountants'.

The consultants said the buildings were "assets of high significance" and the project would result in some harm, from losing original room layouts which "will obscure the original functioning of the five properties as large family homes". But they also say keeping the site in use would help conserve it in the long term and would "enhance the historic character of the site" and the heritage significance of the three listed buildings, concluding: "This less than substantial level of harm is assessed to be justified by the heritage benefits created."

They said a historic buildings officer at Stockton Council told how there had been previous proposals to subdivide the buildings' historic spaces and replace historic windows, quoting the officer as saying: "These have all been considered unacceptable at this premises and further proposals for such would be strongly discouraged.

"It is considered, however, that a sympathetic conversion to residential could be acceptable at these properties when led by heritage considerations."