THE Ministry of Defence has been allowed to keep using a two-storey 72 bedroom soldiers’ accommodation block, despite having previously been told to demolish the building by 2015.

Members of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee heard while the expansive building was unattractive and completely out of keeping other buildings at Marne Barracks in Catterick village, planning permission for the building had run out nearly five years ago.

Under some circumstances, planning permission is not needed for temporary buildings, for instance if the structure has a floor space of less than 100sq m and it is not going to be used for more than 28 days.

The meeting was told the prefabricated modular accommodation block needed planning permission which had been granted in 2010, but there was a condition that the building could only be retained for five years, until February 2015.

A planning officer told the meeting: “Obviously we are a long way past that now so the MoD have taken it upon themselves to come back to us, cap in hand a little bit, and say can we try and keep this building.

“It is not a building of any vernacular that would fit in with the nice brick buildings systematic of Marne Barracks.”

The meeting was told the MoD had initially applied to keep the building permanently, but as its life expectancy was just 25 years, the application had been restricted to permission for a further 15 years.

Despite the move extending planning permission for the building to a quarter of a century, officers said its purpose remained only for “temporary military accommodation” required to address a short-term need.

Councillor Angie Dale said despite the building’s appearance it did continue to serve a need, but raised concerns that granting the building temporary permission could lead to it slipping through the planning net again.

She asked officers: “How will we have something in the system so this actually comes back in 15 years, so it’s not there for another 20? How are we going to monitor that?”

The council’s system generated a letter to the applicant.

Councillor Ian Threlfall said as the thermal efficiency and speed of building properties would need to improve in the future, “modular building is probably something we are going to have to look at seriously”.

He added: “Whilst I half agree it is different and nice in its own way, I do hope we should use it as an example of what not to finish up with.”

Members suggested the MoD could come up with a new plan for the site before the 15-year permission expired.