Gilstrap changes approved
3:44pm Wed Feb 27, 2013
Plans to change the use of the Gilstrap Centre, Newark, to a register office and make alterations to the building were approved by Nottinghamshire County Council on Tuesday.
The council’s planning committee considered the application, submitted by its officers.

As well as the change of use, the application included a new access for disabled at the rear, a new entrance for public toilets, the remodelling of toilets, and creation of office space.

The building, listed for protection and in a conservation area, is owned by The Gilstrap Trust. The trustees are members of Newark and Sherwood District Council.

Mr Jerry Smith, the county’s development control service manager, said the application attracted no objections from Newark and Sherwood District Council, English Heritage or the county council’s built heritage department, but objections were raised by Newark Town Council and the public.

Issues included parking and traffic, potential damage to the character of the listed building, and concerns about use of confetti and wedding guests damaging the castle grounds.

Mr Smith recommended the application be approved.

Newark resident Mr Michael Harris raised concerns about traffic and the suitability of alternative premises at Lock Keeper’s Cottage as a tourist information centre.

He said: “The lay-by outside the Gilstrap Centre is used by 14 different bus services so what’s going to happen when weddings take place?

“Visitors will find great difficulty in locating carparking spaces in close proximity to the register office.”

Mr Smith said there were 13 carparks in Newark.

Mr Harris suggested the county council consider using 21 Lombard Street as a register office, as the building had previously been used for that purpose.

County councillor Mr Keith Walker, who represents Balderton, also had concerns and said he thought Castlegate was the wrong place for a register office.

He said although the castle grounds were a lovely backdrop, there was the fact the public were also using the gardens, and that they were used for fairs and other events.

“The other thing is the gridlocked traffic in Newark which is horrendous.

“It can take an hour to get from Beaumond Cross to Beastmarket Hill. I believe it is in the wrong place and there are other sites that would be available.”

Another planning committee member, Mr Stan Heptinstall , supported the Gilstrap Centre being used as a register office.

“The idea of having ceremonies in a town centre location in a beautiful building to me over-rides the traffic problems,” he said.

“If we listened to traffic difficulties all the time we would never do anything.”

l Newark and Sherwood District Council has applied to the Charity Commission for permission to alter the covenant on the Gilstrap Centre to enable it to hand it over to the county council on a proposed seven-year lease.

Until the matter is decided by the Charity Commission the county council will not be able to take over the building.

Campaigners remain steadfastly opposed to the register office plan for the Gilstrap, believing it should remain publicly accessible to all.

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