Saturday, 3 December 2011

Saving Georgian buildings in Newark-on-Trent


To their credit, local councillors refused consent in early November for wholesale clearance of the Robin Hood Hotel site on the edge of Newark town centre, following concerted pressure from us and other conservation bodies. The threatened listed buildings included a distinguished early eighteenth century merchant’s house (shown here), which like its neighbours had been allowed to fall into disrepair; but their condition was not as dire as the applicants claimed and their repair and reuse for retail purposes is not only feasible but economically viable. 

The applicants’ argument that the profit achievable from refurbishment was unreasonably small compared with that achievable from a cleared site inexplicably found favour with local authority’s Director of Growth, who felt that the failure to make a case for demolition under PPS5 criteria was trumped by the Government’s Planning For Growth document of March 2011, which emphasized that priority should be given to sustainable economic growth. In the mid-1990s, a similar battle was fought and won by us and others over a proposal to demolish the listed Town Wharf CafĂ© Building on the riverfront, now restored and reused. Less happily, much of a fine nineteenth century school complex overlooking the parish church was recently demolished to provide additional supermarket car parking.  And indeed this is not the end of the battle for the Robin Hood Hotel, as the repair and reuse of the buildings need to be urgently secured. A building preservation trust is interested in taking them on but would need a substantial dowry.

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