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.
This locally made clock, by Skerrett in 1890, is currently on display for all to see in the town library. It is an important symbol of our town’s heritage and Civic pride. The library was built on the site of the old Municipal Hall and that iconic building’s demolition was the impetus for the founding of the Newcastle -under-Lyme Civic Society in 1968.
Now a new “Civic Hub” is being built on the adjacent site of a recently demolished landmark Victorian school next to the Queen’s Gardens and the library will be moved into part of that new building. The space allocated for the library service is much smaller than it has at present. Consequently the future of the clock is now in doubt as space will be at a premium.
Civic Society members fervently believe that the clock should be prominently displayed in the “Civic Hub”. This view is supported by our local Member of Parliament, Paul Farrelly.
If this is not possible alternative sites within the town centre will need to be considered.
What do you think ?
Let us know where you think the clock should be displayed so that it can remain on view for everyone admire.
Our President, Jim Worgan, in his capacity as a resident of the Borough, has been offered and accepted the position of Macebearer at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, during the term of office of the present Mayor, until May 2017.
There are two Macebearers whose principal duties are :
1) To proceed the Mayor from the Civic Offices on formal occasions including the Mayor’s Civic Church Service and the annual Remembrance Day Parade and Church Service and
2) From the Mayor’s Parlour to the Council Chamber for 6 full meetings of the Borough Council.
The mace is the symbol of the Sovereign. It is always carried before the Mayor with the crown uppermost except if the Sovereign is present, then the crown is reversed. It is the symbol of Royal Authority delegated to the Mayor and is thus redundant in the presence of the Sovereign.
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.
It is once again time to be on the look out for projects to nominate for this award.
This scheme, run jointly by the Civic Society and Borough Council, aims to promote good design and workmanship in buildings and development of land within the Borough.
There are three categories :-
A New buildings
ii. Commercial and other
B Conservation / Refurbishment
ii. Commercial and other
C Landscaping and development of land
In categories A and B work must be completed between 1st January 2011 and 31st December 2012 and in category C between 1st January 2009 and 31st December 2012.
Anyone may nominate a project for consideration but all nominations must be received by 1st August 2013. Details about nomination forms will be available shortly.
Winners of the awards in 2011 were :-
Category A (ii) Newcastle-under-Lyme College
and Stoke City F.C. Training Facility
Category B (ii) Lancaster Buildings
Look out for possible projects to nominate as you travel about the Borough.
by Jim Worgan
In June 2009, Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council joined English Heritage in progressing PCISA for part of the Town Centre Conservation Area. The scheme was launched in April 2010 and its objective is to contribute towards the re-generation of the Town Centre through the re-invigoration of its historic environment. It will provide repairs to key historic buildings and re-instating traditional features and enhancing the Conservation Area within the commercial core.
The scheme will run for 3 years and a steering group, which meets at regular intervals, comprising Officials and Councillors from the Borough Council, English Heritage, the Civic Society and Chamber of Trade and Enterprise, was set up to oversee the scheme.
So far grants have been given to:-
a) Lancaster Buildings for shop front improvements and re instatement,
b) Lighting scheme in Market Lane, which will be the first of its kind anywhere in Great Britain
c) “Mellards warehouse” in Market Lane.
Discussions are currently being held with the owners of Farmers Shoes, Comwalls Chemist and the agents of the Castle Hotel.
The Borough’s Conservation Officer and the steering group will continue to promote the scheme and encourage as much publicity as possible.
The Local Register is the ‘new’ name for the Local List which was initiated last year. The first round of buildings to be ‘listed’ now form the basis for this new Register. At the time ‘foul’ was called when it appeared that some areas were over-represented on the list to the exclusion of others in terms of items to be listed and accepted.
If you sent in any items for inclusion and they were not selected, do not despair since the Newcastle Borough Council is calling for more items to be included this year – deadline August 2011. Hopefully this time a more equitable way of judging items will have been drawn up and implemented.
The idea of a Local Register is a good one, since not all buildings, features and monuments etc., close to a community’s heart can be listed or protected by English Heritage, neither are they covered if they are not in a Conservation Area. It was thus understood that being ‘registered’ would give such buildings / monuments / features etc. within a neighbourhood some protection, particularly against developers who appear to be
less than sentimental when it comes to removing anything that gets in the way of their development.
Unfortunately, we are told that this is not the case and being Registered does not necessarily protect an item. It means, only, that when a planning application is made note will be taken of any item which has been Registered and which may be endangered by the plan. In essence this means that it will be up to the NBC Officer in charge of the proposal to judge the importance of the item to be removed by the developer. This could be a stumbling block since not all Officers are au fait with some of the landmarks that residents hold dear within their neighbourhoods.
Residents in Thistleberry are still fighting the decision by Officers, both paid and elected, to remove the historic bridge parapet wall on the A525 which was replaced by a metal crash barrier by the developer, and people of Newcastle borough still smart when the demolition of the Municipal Hall is mentioned (which was replaced by a 1960s concrete block with little or no architectural merit and even less aesthetic value!).
At the moment we wait to see how this Register will pan out in practice. The only recourse for residents is to keep a close eye on planning issues and to lobby really hard for the preservation of those buildings that deserve to be kept for posterity – and there aren’t many of those left in Newcastle.
The Civic Society exists to protect the best of the built environment that the Borough has to offer.
Use it or lose it!
The list to date can be seen on the NBC web site.
To include a new item an application form has to be completed and photographs and a history of the items have to be included if it is to be considered by the ‘judges’.
Don’t delay – do it now !