A landmark building in Wolverhampton that served as a training centre for Midlands journalists during the 1980s and 90s looks set to be converted into eight new apartments.
Proposals to transform Rock House, in Old Hill, Tettenhall, were first submitted last November and have now been updated ready to go before city council planners next week.
The council, which has been recommended to approve the plans subject to a number of conditions, has so far received eight letters in support of the application and only one objection relating to parking.
Rock House previously served as the Express & Star and Shropshire Star’s external training base, and saw hundreds of reporters and media staff passing through its doors – many going on to achieve national success in their field.
Part of the former Midland News Association (MNA) building, which dates back to the 1720s, is now occupied by Rock House Dental Practice.
In a report to the council, senior planning officer Colin Noakes said: “Rock House is located close to the centre of Tettenhall. The building originally dates to the 18th Century, is Grade II listed and situated within a conservation area.
“This area is predominantly residential in character. The property was originally a residential property but has recently been used as commercial offices, and the proposal would return the building to its original use.
“The principle elevation of the Georgian town house is three storeys in height with a basement. The main building was last used as commercial offices but is currently empty.
“The property is on two levels with the main building fronting onto Old Hill and a higher-level, single storey building which is currently in use as a dental practice, which will continue to operate from the building,” he added.
Wolverhampton-based Deol Developers Ltd, which specialises in transforming unused or derelict properties, is seeking planning approval to convert the main building into eight one and two-bedroom apartments.
Proposed parking provisions have been made for 22 spaces to accommodate both residents and visitors to the dental practice.
One of the planning conditions noted in the report is the installation of an electric vehicle charging point.
“The heritage value of the interior has been reduced over time by unsympathetic alterations undertaken by past occupiers as they changed its use from residential to commercial office use," the report says.
“Although the conversion of the property will result in the removal of some walls, the main internal staircase will remain in place and other historic internal features will be incorporated into the new apartments,” added the report.
The house was built by Francis Smith between 1720-30. In 1920 the annexe was donated to the Roman Catholic Church for use as a chapel and community centre until 1965.
By the early 1970s the building had been left empty for a number of years and was extensively vandalised and almost derelict before being restored with the aid of an improvement grant. It was later acquired by Midland News Association for use as a training facility.
Council planners will make a final decision on the application next Tuesday.