A Wetherspoon pub will renovate the interior of its historic building in Walsall city center to provide better facilities for customers. The pub giant will remove internal walls to create a larger area for punters and improve toilets and access to the top floor of St Matthew’s Hall on Lichfield Street.
Walsall Council planning officers granted listed building consent for work to take place on the 19th-century property. St Matthew’s Hall was given Grade II listed status in 1986. It was built around 1831 as a public library after the land was purchased for £50.
It later became Walsall County Court until the late 20th century, when it became a pub. Modifications to be made include:
- Removal of walls at the back of the internal bar to convert disused storage areas to create a larger customer area.
- Existing window frames will be removed to open up the new conservatory to the existing dining room.
- Reconfiguration of the lift platform, stairs and raised area to give better access between the two levels
- New opening formed to give customers access to first floor restrooms
- The existing first floor bathrooms will be demolished and new, larger ones will be created.
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Agents DV Architects said: “We believe the proposal will not only help maximize the potential of the site and provide a much better visitor area.” They added that apart from the internal works that have been agreed, the pub will remain much the same and the alterations will be in keeping with the character of the place.
A heritage assessment by Cotswold Archeology said the works will have no impact on the building’s historical significance. They said: “St Mathews Hall was built around 1831, and is a Grade II listed building, listed on England’s National Heritage List and is therefore considered a designated heritage asset.
“The building originated as a library before its conversion to a county courthouse in the mid-19th century. The building continued in this role through the 20th century before its conversion to a public house in the late 20th century.
“The importance of the building derives mainly from its evidential and aesthetic values as a large building in the neoclassical style that evidences the architectural styles of the time, before the period of the Gothic Revival.
“Aesthetic value is more prevalent through the building’s surviving external architectural elements, while internally the building has undergone successive alterations and changes, resulting in substantial erosion of previous historic features and floor plans.
“The proposed development broadly comprises a number of minor internal modifications to wall alignments on the ground, first and second floors, along with the removal of three fixed timber windows from the existing ground floor south elevation. The proposals have been written to facilitate various improvements to the operation of the public house and the safety of patrons.
“The internal interventions are mainly directed at areas of the building that have already undergone appreciable change and no longer show their historical plans.
“In addition, the proposals for partition removal focus on those areas of late 20th century fabric of no heritage significance. In general, the proposals incorporate limited removal of both historic and modern fabric.
“The proportionately modest degree of change, together with the preservation of elements contributing to ‘special interest’ means that the proposals are in accordance with Section 66 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.”