stone lock cottage
The owners of Stone Lock Cottage, which is part of Beeston Stone Lock (a Grade II listed structure) on the Shropshire Union Canal, have applied for planning permission to demolish this historic lock keeper's cottage and replace it with a modern dwelling and separate garage.
Stone Lock Cottage is situated at the side of the Shropshire Canal at Beeston Stone Lock. The lock and the cottage are in a Conservation Area, and whilst the lock is already Grade II listed, the cottage itself is of historic interest, and has also been put forward as a building which should be listed. (see page 80 of Cheshire West and Chester Council's document published in 2018)
The cottage, formerly owned by British Waterways, was originally sold in 1992. The current owners put in a planning application to Cheshire West and Chester Council in February 2023. In October of this year, they submitted a changed proposal, requesting permission to demolish Stone Lock Cottage and replace it with a new dwelling and a detached garage.
Canal River Trust became involved because the deeds show incorrect boundary lines, attributing land to the owners on the offside of the canal which is in fact owned by CRT. It sounds as though CRT have previously notified the Cheshire Council of this, but are still waiting for the deeds to be altered.
The second reason for CRT's involvement is that the charity is there to "protect the heritage of the canals". Indeed, in their letter to Cheshire Council they state:
"Given the nearby canal heritage, including the Grade II listed No 12 Beeston Stone Lock, Linkman's Hut and Chester Canal Conservation Area, the impact of the Heritage Impact Assesment (HIA) is welcomed. The HIA outlines thorough research into the history of the site, particularly the relationship of lock cottages with the canal, and there is significant evidence provided of the historic and archaeological merits of the site. However, the HIA provides minimal assessment with regard to how the proposed design and form of the replacement dwelling would mitigate potential harm to the immediate designated heritage assets. We would ask the Council to satisfy itself that the application is sufficiently evidenced in this regard..."
In their letter, CRT go on to discuss various facets of the new design, and point out that in accordance with the initial sale in 1992, everything has to be passed through the Trust.
Given the bad publicity that CRT have occasionally been subjected to - for instance, with regard to the sale of the historic Crick Wharf to new developers - it is important to recognise that in this instance, they are doing their utmost to ensure that any new dwelling on the site of Stone Lock Cottage will not impact on the canal and its users in any way.
However, an additional point of interest is that despite Stone Lock Cottage being within three metres of Beeston Stone Lock, which as we know is a Grade II Listed Structure, Historic Buildings England were not made aware of this planning application - especially as Stone Lock Cottage, built for the Lock Keeper, could arguably be deemed to be an intrinsic part of the Grade II listed lock.
If you are interested in the preservation of the heritage of our canals and its stuctures and buildings, or have a particular affinity with the Shropshire Union canal, then it might be worth your while writing to the Cheshire West and Chester Council, Council Offices, 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BE.
The planning application can be viewed on Cheshire West & Chester Council's planning portal, reference 22/04592/FUL.