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Shrewsbury Ark homeless charity plans to make town pub its new base

By Dominic Robertson | Shrewsbury | News | Published: | Last Updated:

A charity which provides care for the homeless in Shrewsbury plans to buy a pub and convert it for its new permanent home.

The Rock & Fountain, on Castle Foregate. Photo: Google StreetView.

Shrewsbury's Ark has operated out of its current premises at 10 Castle Foregate for a number of years, but the charity's chair, Emily Bell, has revealed proposals that would provide a permanent base for the organisation.

In a post on the charity's website, Ms Bell revealed that it has had an offer accepted to buy the Rock & Fountain pub, also on Castle Foregate, and that it has submitted a planning application required for permission to use the building.

She said: "10 Castle Foregate has always been a tight squeeze, a situation greatly exacerbated by the Covid-19 distancing regulations. We have been very mindful of the building’s limitations, and for several years, we have been looking for an establishment that would enable us to deliver our services to our full potential.

The Ark's current base

"Finding the right fit for a new home has been incredibly challenging; it has not been an easy task to tick the many essential criteria boxes. As well as a significant increase in square footage, we need to be close to public transport hubs, and there are restrictions that come when working with individuals with highly complex needs.

"However, the trustees believe we have found the building which ticks those boxes, and recently took the decision to make an offer to purchase the Rock & Fountain pub, (just a few buildings down from our existing headquarters,) at 32 Castle Foregate.

"As the new Chair of the Ark, I am absolutely delighted to inform our supporters, this offer has been accepted, subject to survey, to approval for the change of use, and to all the inevitable intricacies of property purchase."

Winter

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The application to the council outlines how the building would become a 'day centre' with exceptions for overnight sleeping in harsh winter conditions.

A statement submitted with the application says: "The proposals for a day centre and no overnight sleeping is proposed with the possible exception of the very few occasions in the winter when the council may ask for rough sleepers to be accommodated. On these occasions there will always be appropriate staff, volunteers and/or security staff on the premises."

The application also outlines how the centre would be open to people between 9am and 2pm, Monday to Friday.

The report states: "Typically, staff and volunteers are present at the premises between 8am and 4pm hours with clients present between 9am and 2pm hours, Monday to Friday.

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"As described during these hours there would likely be up to six staff, six volunteers and 15 to 30 clients at any one time. This represents a low level of activity which will be entirely appropriate in this commercial location."

In her post Ms Bell said that if the building survey and planning application are successful then they could take ownership of the building before the end of the year.

She said: "Should our planning application be successful and the purchase proceed, this will probably be the biggest project the charity has undertaken since it was established in 1972; with a major refurbishment required, we will, as always, be exceedingly grateful for the amazing support of the community as we take the charity to a new level."

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