More cause for optimism
Your correspondent on all matters pertaining to the Robin Hood Hotel is being too pessimistic by far in seeing only negatives in MF Strawson’s withdrawal of its planning application to demolish. (Lose-Lose Situation For Hotel, News Views, April 19).
It seems fair to assume that the Planning Inspectorate will be highly delighted not to have to commit the larger part of their time and resources to prepare for the, now cancelled, May enquiry — as will our district council on our behalf — while any concern for the legal profession’s loss of fees is unlikely to strike many chords locally.
The good news lies surely in the belated but welcome recognition by the developer that it will not be allowed to pull down what remains of the three townhouses, alongside the progress made over the last 12 months towards bringing matters to a head after years of inertia and disregard.
The developer is now well aware of the requirements of Historic England and the planning authority regarding the listed historic fabric and, all being well, the widespread call for something to be done will now be met in such a way as to satisfy sufficiently all those parties with Newark’s long-term interests at heart.
Submission of the revised planning application is believed to be imminent so we should wait, with open minds, to see what it contains.
What it cannot offer in 2018 is a re-instatement of the original 18th Century structures — whatever those quite were.
However, it should endeavour to retain as much as possible of those structures without giving the appearance of a pastiche.
In style, scale, materials and in detail, it should complement and indeed enhance the streetscape at this key gateway to the town.
In the interim and as a matter of urgency, our district council must put pressure on the developer to better protect the surviving edifice and to improve its appearance so that its recently-acquired status as Newark’s “eyesore” can be consigned to history.
Indeed, under its new leadership Newark and Sherwood District Council has the opportunity to rebuild its somewhat battered reputation as a conservation champion, both for its own sake and in support of its Tourism Development Strategy.
At Nottinghamshire Building Preservation Trust we are proud to have led the resistance to both the earlier proposals for demolition and to what the developer had in mind to put in its place.
For over 50 years, the trust has sought not only to protect but also to enhance the county’s built environment, ever mindful of that all buildings must command a sustainable and independent, economic purpose if they are to merit investment, particularly when it comes from the public purse.
In this context, the notion of a well-positioned hotel in the heart of Newark makes perfect sense — but not at the expense of what makes Newark special.
In short, we need to build on the past, not dwell in it. — Peter Duncan, chairman, Nottinghamshire Building Preservation Trust.