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Call to knock down mansion


Demolishing the Georgian mansion that is part of Newark’s Old Magnus Buildings could be one way to salvage plans for a cultural centre, according to a district councillor.

Mr David Payne told Newark and Sherwood’s culture task and finish group that the £33/4m scheme could be scaled down by demolishing the mansion, which is listed for protection.

“It is a carbuncle and has no individual merit in the town,” he said.

The mansion is attached to the 16th Century Tudor Hall — regarded as one of Newark’s most historic buildings — and until about four years ago was home to Nottinghamshire County Council’s education offices.

Together the two buildings were home to the Magnus Grammar School until 1910.

The district council sought £2.45m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to redevelop the buildings and, along with the Palace Theatre, turn the area into a centre for culture.

The scheme, which included a restaurant, a glass-roofed courtyard, and exhibition and workshop space, was turned down by the lottery, with redirection of money to the 2012 London Olympics blamed.

Ways are now being sought to progress with the plans, despite, in September, Heritage Lottery saying the scheme did not represent the right balance between the newly-built and the heritage aspects.

With regard to the possibility of knocking down the Georgian mansion, the district council’s cultural services manager, Mr Mark Stephens, told the task group that the architects had the same idea.

He said there were discussions with English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and they said that could not happen in any circumstances.

Mrs Maureen Dobson said: “Things in Newark always get scaled down.

“We have to say that this is what we want, and we do not want anything else.”

The council’s head of leisure and culture, Mrs Sarah Dawes, said the committee may have to look at continuing in phases.

“We had a positive meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund and it was clear they did not think the project was dead,” she said.

“They made it clear that the trustees were interested in supporting the project but not in its current form.

“We have another meeting in February with one of the national board members so we can resubmit plans in April when strategic plans for 2008-10 are relaunched.”

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