Robin Hood demolition approved
7:00am Thu Mar 09, 2017
 
Part of the remaining section of the Robin Hood Hotel, which Newark and Sherwood District Council says can be demolished.
Part of the remaining section of the Robin Hood Hotel, which Newark and Sherwood District Council says can be demolished.
A controversial town centre eyesore will be demolished, unless a government minister overturns a council decision.
The former Robin Hood Hotel, Lombard Street, Newark, which has been empty for 18 years, will make way for a 66-bedroom Travelodge and retail units if listed building consent and planning permission is allowed to stand.

Newark and Sherwood District Council planning committee on Tuesday voted nine to five in favour of plans by MF Strawson to demolish the Grade II-listed building, despite opposition by conservation groups.

It also agreed to refer the application to the National Planning Casework Unit (NPCU) which will decide whether to send it to Sajid Javid, secretary of state for communities and local government, for a final decision.

The NPCU will decide within 21 days of receiving notification of the council decision, which was expected before the end of this week.

If the NPCU does not send it to the secretary of state, the council’s decision will stand. If it is called-in, the developers could have to wait months before a final decision is made.

The project will only get off the ground if the developers agree to planning conditions, which include a proposal for Travelodge customers to use the multi-storey carpark on Lombard Street for overnight parking.

The district planning committee debated the proposals for around 90 minutes before voting.

'Public opinion is clearly divided'



The council’s business manager for development, Mr Matt Lamb, told councillors to consider whether the loss of a Grade II-listed building was necessary and whether the public benefits of the proposal outweighed the loss of a protected building.

Officers had backed the proposal because they believed the economic benefit it would bring to the town outweighed the loss of a protected building.

Mr Peter Duncan, who spoke as a representative of a neighbouring district ward, said: “Public opinion is clearly divided but many simply assert that Newark deserves better.

“What we’re offered [by the developers] is, in essence, a standard, off-the-shelf, of-its-time development.”

Mr Duncan said the Travelodge plan had been compared to putting lipstick on a pig.

He said a proposal by Nottinghamshire Building Preservation Trust to restore three 18th Century townhouses, which are all that remain of the Robin Hood, could be finished by early 2020 if it received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Mr David Lloyd, also speaking as a neighbouring ward member, said the Travelodge design would not win any awards but the architects had listened to feedback.

“They have done the best they can with a modern new-build and, without making it a pastiche, they have made some attempt to reflect the modern health centre and the nearby historic buildings in a single building.

“The fascia [of the Robin Hood Hotel] is incredibly badly damaged and as it stands there is very little there that interprets the history of Newark.”

'Eyesore'



Planning committee member Mr Rob Crowe, who moved the recommendation to approve the proposal, said: “As a committee we need to hear the voice of the electorate of Newark, the voice that asks time after time to please rid the town of this eyesore.

“This plea is from a very high percentage of the townsfolk of Newark.”

Council leader Mr Roger Blaney, who supported the proposal, said the Travelodge would bring economic benefits that would outweigh the loss of a protected building.

He said the former Robin Hood Hotel was one of hundreds of listed buildings in Newark.

Planning committee member Mrs Penny Rainbow, who opposed the demolition proposal, said there was no reason the fascia of the Robin Hood could not be restored to look like similar buildings on Lombard Street.

Mr Mathew Skinner, who represented Newark Town Council at the meeting, said although more should have been done with the design to make it look like nearby historic buildings, it reluctantly supported the proposal

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