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Newark and Sherwood District Council accused of walking away from promise to properly consult over extension to London Road Carpark

The district council has been accused of walking away from a promise to properly consult over the potential felling of age-old trees in Newark’s London Road Carpark.

Newark and Sherwood District Council director of planning and growth Matt Lamb made the pledge in a letter in 2019 after a petition — gaining 1,770 signatures — opposed an extension to the carpark as it would mean felling trees.

Community group Protect Newark’s Green Spaces told the Advertiser the council, along with a stakeholder, had now completed a ‘review’ into carparking in the town. However, Newark Civic Trust — a stakeholder — and the residents claim they were not made aware.

LAND between Bishops Place and Newark Library where a carpark is being proposed. (47997708)
LAND between Bishops Place and Newark Library where a carpark is being proposed. (47997708)

The group said the district appears to want to revive planning permission to do the works on land between Newark Library and the refurbished flats at the Old Municipal Building (now Bishops Place).

They claimed this was because the council signed a lease with Datch Properties more than two years ago to use the land for council carparking. The group claimed a payment of £25,000 was probably due around about now.

They added a letter written to the council on May 28 had gone unanswered. However, Newark MP Robert Jenrick did reply, asking the group to forward him any replies.

BISHOPS PLACE, formerly the Old Municipal Building. (47997722)
BISHOPS PLACE, formerly the Old Municipal Building. (47997722)

The works, which proposes 34 new carparking spaces, are being offered for tender on a website, which advertises the extension would be carried out between July 19 and September 27 this year.

“Reports from people working near the library are alarming,” said a spokesman for Protect Newark’s Green Spaces.

“There have been visits in the past few days by contractors from arboreal and building companies, measuring up for the pruning and cutting down of some trees, and quotes are being obtained for construction of the carpark.

“It is ironic that our district council’s logo is a green tree, their motto is Cleaner, Safer, Greener.

“And, one of the lessons of the 15-month covid-19 pandemic is that nature, green spaces, trees and wildlife are essential for human mental health and physical well-being.

“There is no publicly-proven need for extra carparking in Newark town centre. A survey carried out by the civic trust in late 2018 showed a surplus of spaces.

“The Town Plan provides funds to promote more use of public transport and cycles. We ask, why is the council going against their own public declarations about a cleaner, safer, greener Newark?

“Why have they not cancelled the lease/contract for the land in question?”

The letter from Mr Lamb, sent in November 2019, read in part: “Carparking is one such issue that will be important in developing wide plans for the town. To this end, it is proposed the review of the Municipal carpark extension is absorbed into a wider carparking strategy review.

“There will be stakeholder engagement on a carparking review, which I will ensure includes the civic trust as an interested organisation.

“It is envisaged a deliverable wider town strategy can be adopted by March 2020. In the interim I can confirm the council will not undertake any works to implement the carpark.”

Despite the works going out to tender, Newark and Sherwood District Council told the Advertiser the carparking review had not been completed.

David Lloyd, leader of the district council, said: “The carparking review is nearing completion.

“As we committed to do, and before a decision is taken on the options available, we will engage with local stakeholders.”

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