Shropshire Star

Regeneration specialist sought as council explores new uses for historic town hotel

Shropshire Council will seek the help of a regeneration specialist as it looks into future uses for a historic Wem hotel.

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The authority bought the White Horse on the High Street in July 2023 with a view to renovating the building, which has stood empty for a number of years.

After taking possession of the building last year, Shropshire Council said it wanted to work with local councillors and Wem Town Council to renovate the building, which they said could comprise residential use for the upper floors and a retail unit on the ground floor.

Now, the authority had advertised for a contractor to carry out a survey of the building and come up with options for how a future renovation could take shape.

“Shropshire Council have taken the decision to purchase the Grade II Listed White Horse in order to repair and bring the building back in to use and remove the blight it is currently causing on the town’s High Street,” a statement said.

“This is a brave move by the organisation and we want to ensure that the final use of the building is right for the building, and its status, but also ensures a return for the council or at least covers all costs.

“It is envisaged that this will provide a catalyst for further enhancement in the town that encourages wider business investment and the ability to attracting grant funding.

“We are therefore now seeking a consultant/s with extensive heritage-led regeneration and business experience to work with Shropshire Council, partners and town council members to look at end uses that don’t compromise its listed status.”

The winning bidder will carry out a condition survey of the building alongside a market analysis to see what is required in Wem which they say will be “grounded in engagement” with future users and tenants.

Options for the building’s final use will then be presented.

“As the building is now in the council’s ownership, community planning and engagement is essential to understand the needs of end users, residents and stakeholders, and help shape the options. A proposal for an engagement programme to achieve this is therefore required,” the proposal document adds.

Potential bidders have until May 17 to submit their proposals, with work on the project expected to get underway in June.