Come along to hear Guy Benson (Head of Planning and Development, Regeneration and Development Directorate, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council) talk about the Challenges of Planning from a local authority perspective.
Most of us live in a world of buildings; they are all around us and a part of the landscape. It is important to us therefore that they should, as far as possible, be attractive to look at, well designed and suitable for their purpose. To be surrounded by ugly monstrosities can be very depressing and can affect our quality of life. Many buildings will also carry memories for us; a school, place of work or a church where we were married, for example. Some are of historic interest or add character or beauty to their area.
For these reasons buildings may have an importance beyond their practical use, or if no longer required for the purpose for which they were originally constructed.
Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society does its best to highlight buildings which it believes are of significant merit to be worthy of preservation for the enjoyment and education of future generations, and lobbies to protect them if they become under threat from development. We are not always successful, sometimes practical considerations overrule sentiment, but in many cases we are listened to.
In addition to this, we have also inaugurated a scheme by which, in active co-operation with Newcastle Borough Council, we make bi-annual awards to encourage and reward examples of good design and workmanship for new developments, both commercial and residential, and tasteful refurbishment of older properties. If you know of any such construction, completed during the last two years, which you feel should be considered for such an award, please let us know.
Now is the time to consider nominating a building or landscape project that exhibits good quality design and execution within the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. For further information see below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
There has been a planning application submitted (16/00933/FUL) to demolish the former Savoy Cinema in the centre of Newcastle and to build an 11 storey block of student accommodation in its place. This site is in the Newcastle Town Centre Conservation Area, adjacent to our iconic Guildhall and in close proximity to St Giles Church.
The unsympathetic height, mass and design of the proposed building is unlikely to compliment or enhance the centre of our market town which consists mainly of three storey Georgian / Victorian buildings.
The Civic Society is strongly objecting to these proposals.
If you feel that this proposed development will detract from the character, ambiance and domestic scale of our Town Centre Conservation Area we urge you to make your views known too.
For further information visit –
publicaccess.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk and type Savoy in the search box
Architect’s impression of the new Public Services Hub
Newcastle-under-Lyme is essentially a small mainly Georgian/Victorian market town.
The town centre is a Conservation Area encircled by a dual carriageway ring road. Within this confined area are three main roads, High Street, The Ironmarket and Merrial Street. Many of the buildings in the town centre, now converted into shops, bars banks etc. were originally built as houses and are of domestic scale of two or three storeys. To fully appreciate the town’s heritage it is necessary to look above some inappropriate shopfronts and admire the upper storeys of the handsome buildings.
There are a number of large supermarkets situated outside the town centre that draw trade and footfall away from smaller traders.
There are fortunately still some buildings of architectural merit in the town but redevelopment in the 1960s removed some significant buildings, including the Municipal Hall in the Ironmarket, and replaced them with “modern” buildings that are in conflict with the style of neighbouring properties but at least are of a similar scale.
The Ironmarket is arguably the most attractive road in the town centre. It is a broad, largely pedestrianized, thoroughfare. Many upper storeys have changed little over the years and retain their original character and diversity. Old photographs show the dominance and majesty of the Municipal Hall that once stood proudly adjacent to the Queen’s Gardens. Demolished in the 1960s it was replaced by the current library.
If the plans for a new Public Sector Hub are successful, the library will move to the new building and be confined to a reduced floor area.
The current library building will become surplus to requirements. Its future is uncertain.
The Queen’s Gardens are the green heart of Newcastle’s town centre. Many consider this part of Newcastle second only to the Guildhall in reflecting the character and ambiance of the town.
At present the garden’s backdrop is the very attractive Victorian former St. Giles’ and St. George’s School building.
It has been proposed that this school should be demolished and replaced by a four storey Public Services Hub.
Architect’s impression of the Public Sector Hub
This development is within the Town Centre Conservation Area.
It is difficult to envisage this development sympathetically complimenting the character and ambiance of our Victorian/ Georgian heritage.
Even on a brief visit to Newcastle town centre one can observe developments that have enhanced its appeal and others that have marred its beauty and character.
The area around Red Lion Square retains some of its Georgian/Victorian heritage but York Place, built in the 1960s, now looks dated. Beyond the square there is an area which awaits development where a supermarket has been demolished. Currently it is used as a car park and this area, together with the current site of the Civic Centre facing Merrial Street, is earmarked for retail development and student accommodation.
Merrial Street has a number of interesting buildings including Wilton House, the former Conservative Club, The Ebenezer Schoolrooms and the former police station which now stands empty facing an uncertain future.
The current Civic Centre may not be the most beautiful building in town but it is a good example of the architecture of its time.
The Guildhall is the iconic landmark building in Newcastle. This building has had a chequered recent past. It was left to deteriorate after an unsuccessful period when leased for use as a public house but has recently been renovated, refurbished and brought back into public use as a public access point for council services. Once again its future may be uncertain if the proposed new public sector hub is built elsewhere in the town.
The area adjacent to the Guildhall in the High Street was demolished in the 1930s and replaced by Lancaster Buildings. This “new” building is a good example of architecture of its time and has recently become a Grade II Listed Building.
Commendably the facade of the Castle Hotel was substantially retained when the site behind was redeveloped and the new Roebuck shopping centre frontage compliments the street view and respects its neighbours.
Behind High Street in Market Street, Mellards Warehouse has been restored and refurbished to a very high standard and serves as an excellent example of sympathetic updating of a building to meet today’s needs.
Castle Walks, which extends from the bus station to the Ironmarket, consists of new build shops of two storeys with varying roof levels that have been carefully designed to compliment the surrounding area.
The south side of the High Street between Friars Road and the Grosvenor Roundabout has little to commend it as it consists largely of characterless utilitarian buildings. The north side of this road retains some of its Victorian feel with a mixture of different frontages, roof levels and architectural features and details.
At the end of the High Street there is an attractive sunken garden within Grosvenor Roundabout and across the ring road stands 1 London Road, a modern block of flats that many consider an inappropriate and out of place development.
The following is Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society’s formal objection to the planning application made to demolish the former St Giles’ and St George’s Primary School.
“The current former school building has undeniable architectural, historic and heritage value and it forms a fitting, delightful, single storey backdrop for the Queen Victoria statue and Queen’s Gardens. Unfortunately at present its frontage to Barracks Road cannot be seen or judged because of the very unattractive wooden fence surrounding the site. This school is one of the few remaining architecturally interesting Victorian school buildings remaining and it is of great value to Newcastle’s heritage especially as it is located within the Town Centre Conservation area. We do not believe that sufficient attention or effort has been made to explore alternative uses for the former school and its demolition would greatly diminish the town.
The most outstanding characteristic of the Conservation Area has to be its blend of Georgian and Victorian architecture. Newcastle is, essentially, a market town centre of domestic scale comprising of numerous small traders operating within the ring road on three main thoroughfares. The site in question is located at the north end of the town centre with its frontage onto the duel carriageway ring road. Access to and from the site is limited and congested at peak travel times. The concentration of civic services into the proposed hub will draw footfall to the site and away from many traders in the High Street and town centre. Separate buildings suited to the needs and purposes of the separate services are preferable. Locating services in separate buildings encourages movement around the town rather than concentrating it into a smaller area.
The St Giles’ and St George’s site is too small and cramped for the proposed “Hub”. We believe a four storey building will be too dominant and out of scale for this site which is within the Conservation Area. However to date we have not been told anything about the proposed structure, its style or materials. Whatever the architects propose for this site it is unlikely to improve upon what already exists. The former school played an important role in the lives and education of local people. It is part of the town’s heritage that should not be lost.
Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society strongly objects to the demolition of this important landmark building and urges the Borough Council to reconsider its intention to vacate the Ryecroft site and relocate to a centralised “Hub” on the former St Giles’ and George’s school site.”
This scheme aims to promote and encourage good design and workmanship in new buildings, refurbishment of older buildings and landscape schemes with the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
This year we received eight nominations:
One nomination for new residential buildings
One nomination for new commercial buildings
Two nominations for the refurbishment of commercial buildings
Four nominations of landscape schemes
Judging took place on 3rd October. The judging panel consisted of the Conservation Officer and Councillors of Newcastle Borough Council, architects, planners and members of Newcastle Civic Society.
The Society’s thanks go to the judging panel for giving up their time and to all those who nominated projects.
The following three projects will be presented with awards by His Worship the Mayor, Councillor E. Boden at the Civic Offices on 5th December.
The Orchard, Chesterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme has been awarded a winner’s plaque for good design and workmanship in the new residential buildings category.
Mellard’s Warehouse, Market Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme has been awarded a winner’s plaque for good design and workmanship in the refurbishment of commercial buildings category.
Keele University Day Nursery, Keele has been awarded a Certificate of Commendation for good design and workmanship in the new commercial buildings category.
The Civic Awards Scheme, promoting and encouraging good design and workmanship within the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme, takes place every two years and we hope that in 2015 there will be even more nominations which can be made by anyone who identifies a project they feel merits consideration.
Contributed by John Sutton
We are due to make further Civic Awards again this year. The object of the scheme is to encourage high quality of design and workmanship throughout the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. The scheme is operated in conjunction with the Borough Council and is probably the project which identifies most closely with the objects of the Society as laid down at its inauguration in 1968.
These Awards, which are to be made every two years, were revived in 2009 after a lapse of many years and are designed to enhance the appearance of the area in which we live. Although instigated by the Civic Society, the Awards are run in equal partnership with the Borough Council with whom we enjoyed, and I use the word advisedly, excellent co-operation during the 2009 scheme. It sometimes seems that we are opposing them on planning matters and it was a real pleasure to be working with them to a common end and for the benefit of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Awards will be considered for the following categories:-
A) New Buildings – (i) Residential (ii) Commercial and other.
B) Conservation/Refurbishment of existing buildings – (i) Residential (ii) Commercial and other.
C) Landscaping and Development of land
Awards will be made for category A and B work completed between 1st January 2009 and 31st December 2010 and for landscaping and development of land work completed between 1st January 2007 to 31st December 2010.
Anyone may nominate a project for consideration for an Award, but all nominations must be submitted not later than 1st August 2011 and must be on the official Forms.
Nomination Forms and Guidance Notes may be downloaded from the Civic Society website http://www.newcastleunderlymecivicsociety.wordpress.com , the Borough Council website http://www.newcastle-staffs.gov.uk or may be obtained from 10 Kingsway East, Newcastle ST5 3PZ.
Look around you and see if you can find some project worthy of nomination.
Contributed by Philip Crush
Supermarkets are convenient.
They offer easy parking, useful trolleys, a wide range of products, competitive prices, special offers and open at times that suit our busy lifestyles.
BUT convenience costs.
In the days before the growth of supermarkets every town centre was full of small local traders serving their local communities. High Streets were bustling with life and each had its own character.
What a contrast to today !
Travelling the country we see empty shops, charity shops, banks and building societies, pubs and coffee outlets. Many shops that are still trading display the gaudy corporate livery of massive chains. At street level most towns look the same.
Fortunately if you lift your gaze you will see a glimpse of Newcastle’s former character and individuality. We have some very attractive buildings (if you can ignore their hideous “modern” shop fronts).
We must find a way of breathing new life into our town centre. We need to promote Newcastle’s individual character and encourage the establishment and development of specialist shops and workshops providing goods and services not available in the large chain stores and supermarkets.
I want the best of both worlds –
Convenient supermarkets AND a thriving town centre.