Society News

The Society is considering offering to host a meeting of representatives from other local groups and voluntary bodies to see if any common issues which relate to the town and its future would benefit from being addressed by representatives and/or volunteers from other local groups/voluntary bodies. The meeting would be held at a date yet to be fixed towards the end of January 2022.

The Blue Diamond Group acquires Mere Park Garden Centre.

The Blue Diamond Group announce the 38th Garden Centre acquisition, Mere Park Garden Centre in Newport, Shropshire.

Blue Diamond managing director Alan Roper said: “Mere Park Garden Centre has excellent A1 retail planning permission and is a quality freehold asset. The site has strong potential and Newport has a strong AB1 demographic.”

David Brierley, the former owner of the garden centre said: “I am delighted to have sold Mere Park to the leading garden centre operator in the UK and look forward to watching the business thrive as part of the Blue Diamond Group.”

Details about the Blue Diamond Group can be found in the link below:-

https://www.bluediamond.gg/news/article/blue-diamond-group-acquires-mere-park-garden-centre

Plans for former Newport hotel to be converted into 17 apartments approved.

Extract from report by Charlotte Bentley Shropshire Star.

Telford and Wrekin Council has approved plans for the former Royal Victoria hotel on St Mary’s Street, Newport to be converted into accommodation.

Back in 2018, full planning permission and listed building consent was granted for the “demolition of rear extension and the internal floors for the conversion of the hotel into 12 no. apartments.

The application’s design and access statement said: “All conditions on these consents have been discharged and the applicant is therefore in a position to implement the approved scheme.
There will be no further demolitions compared to the original permitted scheme other than the gable wall where a Structural Engineers Report has confirmed this wall as being unsafe. The removal of the existing roof and the interior had already been permitted in the 2018 consent and no other structural changes or removal of historic fabric are proposed.”

A conservation officer said the main significance of the former hotel was it’s historical aspects and the surviving architecture of its frontage.

Their report read: “Generally speaking, the architectural merit lies mainly within its principal elevation which fronts St. Mary’s Street and has the biggest visual impact on the street scene. Therefore, the retention of the façade and in addition the basement (currently not utilised) and lobby are supported.”

The design and access statement also confirmed that a total of seven parking spaces already provided is “considered to be suitable in view of the town centre location of the site and the availability of on-street parking and other sustainable modes of transport.”

The former Royal Victoria Hotel -Developer claims paying school and play area improvement contributions will make project ‘unviable’

Extract from an article by Alex Moore Shropshire Star.

In 2017, Hawk Developments Ltd and Town Centre Properties Ltd were granted permission to convert Newport’s Royal Victoria Hotel into seven apartments and build 21 terraced houses behind it, between St Marys Street and Water Lane.
In a report for Telford and Wrekin’s Planning Committee, council officers note that this included an agreement to pay £72,070 and £16,800 towards education and recreation respectively, but Wem-based Hawk Developments has applied to remove these, saying the development would be “relatively finely balanced” even without them.
Officers recommend the committee grants the necessary “deed of variation”, adding that they accept the company’s justification and its case has been independently assessed.
Section 106 of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act allows councils to enter into contracts with developers, requesting money for facilities, affordable housing or other benefits as part of the planning process. Section 106a allows councils to amend those agreements or discharge them where they “no longer serve a planning purpose”, the planners’ report says. The report notes that Town Centre Properties has already transferred the 21 houses to the Wrekin Housing Group.
A summary of further parts of the officers report is to the effect that :-
In December 2018, the applicant’s primary funder was placed into administration and placed in a position of having to re-pay borrowings with a half-completed development with no immediate finance to complete the development, resulting in a substantial loss. Officers accept the applicant’s justification that the section 106 agreement as approved is now unviable and needs to be reconsidered for the applicant as a willing developer to bring the site forward.
The applicant has demonstrated that, with the omission of the sums for education and recreation, the proposed development of the site is financially viable, albeit acknowledging that the financial viability is relatively finely balanced.
The Telford and Wrekin Council Planning Committee is due to meet on Wednesday, November 24 to consider the proposed removal of the obligation to make payment towards the education and recreation budgets.

Multi-million pound scheme to create Newport’s flagship agricultural technology park reaches key milestone.

Details carried by the Shropshire Star in the link below :-

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/business/2021/10/26/multi-million-pound-scheme-to-create-newports-flagship-agricultural-technology-park-reaches-key-milestone/

Speaker Programme Autumn 2021.

We would normally at this time of year be announcing our program of speakers for September through to November, and collecting subs for the next year, a decision to defer the next subs until next September has been taken. However, due to a number of issues including the recent rise in Covid infection rates; the potential for the increase to accelerate with the return of the school pupils to classes; the concern as to the effectiveness of the vaccines possibly decreasing after 6 months, and the lack of clarity as to ‘booster jabs and delivery of the usual flu vaccines, it would appear to be putting members and supporters at unnecessary risk by holding speaker meetings at this time.

We will continue to communicate with members and supporters through email notifications regarding planning applications; distributing Civic Voice updates providing details of the excellent work Civic Voice is undertaking on national issues of importance together with any other matters which we think would be of interest plus through this website.

We will continue to review the risks related to Covid and should the situation improve then we will look to bring forward speaker meeting events.

Telford & Wrekin Council suspends development plan amid national planning policy shake-up

Details in the link below which can be copied and posted into your search engine:-

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/telford/2021/05/27/telford–wrekin-council-suspends-borough-wide-development-plan-amid-national-planning-policy-shake-up/

Plans to increase in number of councillors rejected – but ward maps set to be redrawn-input from local people requested

The article in the link below contains a link to the Boundary Commission website which asks local people for views on where the boundaries should be drawn. The consultation closes on 2 August 2021. Paste the link in your search engine :-

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/politics/2021/05/25/increase-in-number-of-councillors-rejected/

Urgent Action Needed To Stop This Hotel Saga From Dragging On.

Below is a copy of the letter from a local resident which the Newport Advertiser kindly published on its letters page :-

Dear Editor

I was aghast to read the report in the Newport Advertiser of yet another issue which is likely to cause further delay to the development of the Victoria Hotel.

As I have repeatedly pointed out to the powers that be, Newport Town Councillors, District Councillors, and others; Newport is in real danger of losing one of its few remaining iconic and listed buildings.

Unless something is done very soon the town is likely to have another “Tuckers” disaster on its hands. You do not need to be a Structural Engineer to know that buildings which are allowed to become derelict are in danger of becoming unstable. The ugly scaffolding and buttressing which has been for too long supporting the external l walls of the old hotel are no guarantee of ongoing stability.
Buildings collapse inwards as well as outwards, particularly when much of their internal structure has been removed.

After it collapsed the Tucker building was dubbed “The Shame of Newport.” Well, in the case of the Vic we have another building which already is a “Shame of Newport” and which could well become the “Disgrace of Newport” unless something is done very soon.

The need for urgent action cannot be over-stated.

The District Council has powers at its disposal to take action to resolve this situation one way or the other, either by sorting out the planning issues or by using Listed Building Legislation to intervene to ensure the preservation of a Grade 2 Listed Building. If it cannot grant planning permission because of developer demands, then it should take steps to conserve the building by the other means available to it.

I am of the opinion that something must be done as a matter of the upmost urgency. It is no longer acceptable for building so important to Newport to be put in jeopardy because of a developer or by the Council failing to act.

The Vic is part of everyone’s heritage, in particular that of the people of Newport and Telford and Wrekin. It must not be lost by design or by complacency.

Gordon Howdle

More flats planned for redevelopment of historic former hotel

Details in the link below if you paste into your search engine :-

https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/telford/newport/2021/05/03/more-flats-planned-for-hotel-redevelopment/