It was a lacklustre affair to hear the latest Robin Hood planning applications at Newark and Sherwood District Council.
A somewhat slim-line presentation suggested that the unanimous approval of councillors was already anticipated.
Two organisations — the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) and Newark Civic Trust — stood against this result.
The meeting was told Newark Civic Trust’s “unswerving opposition” had been “rebutted by Historic England.”
These organisations had similar views about the Robin Hood, and while Historic England was said to have withdrawn previous objections, this is dependent upon an as yet to be finalised formal agreement to retain more of the historic fabric.
There is also the important issue of NCP agreeing to keep the multi-storey carpark open 24 hours, and various other matters.
The fact also remains that SPAB’s objections could still result in the application being referred to the Secretary of State to be called in.
So, it is hardly a done deal.
While some may think this application is better than previous ones, councillors basically voted on a set of drawings.
The owners could seek to change these, as when the 2012 application to remove a planning condition resulted in a ‘fabric only’ consent that Historic England and others objected to.
The meeting was asked to look at the benefits of the new scheme which, apart from changing a derelict eyesore — the council description — by attaching it to a modern one, appeared to include some low-paid jobs, some hard to access hotel rooms, and potentially more, empty retail outlets.
It remains to be seen whether this will meet the planning test of ‘substantial public benefit’ necessary to justify damage to an important heritage asset. — S. C. McCARTHY, Newark (Full address supplied)