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Newark Civic Trust's call to postpone decision vote on London Road Carpark extension until full investigation takes place



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The Newark Civic Trust has asked the district council to postpone its vote on the decision to extend London Road Carpark until a full investigation has been carried out.

Michael Knapton, chairman of the civic trust, said tomorrow's (Tuesday) vote at full council should be delayed until a probe into the entire history of the project — which would include the felling of age-old trees — can be held.

He said this was to ensure all council members could make an informed and confident decision that the supporting information was correct.

Chairman of Newark Sports Association Francis Towndrow and Newark Civic Trust chairman Michael Knapton in Newark Library Gardens, where plans for a carpark extension have been approved. 211218TV1-1
Chairman of Newark Sports Association Francis Towndrow and Newark Civic Trust chairman Michael Knapton in Newark Library Gardens, where plans for a carpark extension have been approved. 211218TV1-1

Mr Knapton shared documents with the Advertiser that showed Newark and Sherwood District Council chief executive John Robinson on October 7 agree to a full review into the history of the plan, which was granted planning permission in 2017 and expires in November this year.

He added Mr Robinson said the Newark Civic Trust and other community groups would be able to take part in said review. However, Mr Knapton said this was currently planned for after tomorrow's full council where a vote, as it stands, is set to take place.

"This review needs to run in conjunction with a full and proper community consultation exploring the options put forward by Newark and Sherwood District Council but also inviting the community to put forward suggestions on how this green space should be used," he said.

Picture from Stop The Chop march around Newark a few weeks back. Credit: Frances Overbury
Picture from Stop The Chop march around Newark a few weeks back. Credit: Frances Overbury

Mr Knapton said the trust carried out a study on publicly-accessible carparks on one of the busiest shopping days of the year in December 2019, which found carparks were running at 64% capacity.

The council too carried out a carparking review that was published recently, which saw a 1.7% increase in usage across all council carparks between 2019 and 2020. However, London Road Carpark (including the annex) saw a 12.8% decrease overall during the same period.

In 2019 to 2020 (not affected by covid-19) a total of 217,553 London Road Carpark tickets were issued compared to 249,522 in 2018 to 2019.

The period 2020 to 2021 saw a slightly lesser reduction in usage on the previous year — which would have been affected by coronavirus — with 190,532 tickets being issued.

Land between Bishops Place and Newark Library where the extension is set to take place.
Land between Bishops Place and Newark Library where the extension is set to take place.

Councillor Peter Harris also called for a full investigation into the authority's conduct in relation to the carpark at the most recent policy and finance committee — where a vote on the decision was deferred to full council.

Datch Properties Ltd was the owner of Bishops Place at the time planning permission for the carpark extension was granted in 2017. The company signed a 25-year lease with the district council to develop the land in question for council-operated public carparking.

However, ownership now lies with JAJ Developments.

Environmentalists gather outside Castle House to protest the extension of London Road Carpark.
Environmentalists gather outside Castle House to protest the extension of London Road Carpark.

A JAJ spokesman said: "To be clear, we object to the destruction of the trees to the rear of our building and support those objecting to it."

Environmental campaigners are set to hold another protest outside the council headquarters Castle House prior to tomorrow's full council. This will be the fifth demonstration against the carpark plans since 2017.

  • Meanwhile, the chairman of Newark Sports Association has hit back after deputy council leader Keith Girling stated the green space planned for the extension — between Bishops Place and Newark Library — was not well used by the community.

Chairman Francis Towndrow said a Tai Ji Quan session had been held in Newark Library Gardens recently.

"It's been implied that these small areas of amenity green space are not useful but that's incorrect," he said. "This Tai Ji Quan class demonstrates that they are useful and valuable.

"They are vital for the physical health and well-being of people who live in Newark town centre."



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