A derelict pub will be flattened to make way for a new apartment block, despite concerns about the loss of the one of the town’s historic buildings.
Councillors voted in favour of a plan by Whitehaven Estates to bulldoze the former Prince Albert pub in New Street at a planning meeting last week.
The pub has been empty since it closed in 2008 and has since become an eyesore at the entrance to the town centre after being ravaged by fire in 2014.
Developers wanted to build a block of 14 flats over a mixed four and five storey building on the site, and it will also include a ground floor retail space.
Campaigners including Barrow Hill resident Ken Williams raised concerns about the scale of the designs, and about the loss of the historic pub, which was delisted by Historic England in 2016.
Meanwhile Cllr Bernard Heyes spoke against the plan, and likened the new design to an uninspiring multi-storey car park.
He said: “This is nothing more than a hideous monstrosity that is totally unsympathetic to the historic Barrow Hill area.
“The dark and gloomy cladding makes the building look ominous and unattractive. The developer says the design is robust. I think a more appropriate adjective is ‘ugly’.”
Other councillors echoed the concerns about the building’s design, with Cllr Ryan MacPherson likening it to a “murder house”.
But Cllr Paul Clokie said that while it was a “sea change”, Ashford is moving forward and the council has to strike a balance between the old and the new.
He said the building contained “substantial architectural merit”, but said he would like to see if a lighter colour could be used for the building’s cladding.
Council leader Gerry Clarkson said the Prince Albert has been a “derelict scar” in Ashford to too long, and said the building was delisted because it has little merit left as a historic site, as many features have been lost of fire or been damaged.
The plans for the apartment block were approved by 12 votes to two, with Cllr Heyes and Cllr Chris Waters voting against.