Demolition approved for old doctors' surgery as riverside revamp moves closer

The first phase of a major revamp of a town centre has moved a step closer after councillors approved the demolition of a former doctors' surgery.

The former Riverside Medical Practice
The former Riverside Medical Practice

Planning permission was granted to raze to the ground the old Riverside Medical Practice in Smithfield Road, Shrewsbury, at a Shropshire Council North Planning Committee meeting today. It could be the first building to be demolished as part of the Big Town Plan riverside development, which would see the area turned into a destination.

The plan in the short term is for the former medical practice site to be used as a contractors' compound for the redevelopment of the Riverside Shopping Centre. Plans for the centre have not been agreed, but it was recommended that this should not delay the demolition of the old doctors' surgery. Riverside Medical Practice has moved to Barker Street.

At the meeting, chair Joyce Barrow described granting permission as a "no brainer", adding: "I look forward to the redevelopment of the site."

Shrewsbury Civic Society expressed concerns over "important" archaeological remains on the site. In a comment submitted for the meeting, the society said: "The applicant states that the cleared area will be needed for contractors vehicles for the proposed Riverside development. With this new application, we still consider this to have no point unless redevelopment of the Riverside Centre is about to happen and, as yet, there are no signs of this happening anytime soon. We have our concerns as to what will happen to this land in the meantime.

"The building itself is of a sound construction, built above flood levels and we understand is already being used by another organisation which seems to be a sensible use.

"Assuming that the demolition is approved then care must be taken to avoid damage to the important underlying archaeological remains of the important 1640's Roushill Civil War town wall which lie immediately below the surgery buildings.

"The town wall, last seen in the 1980's prior to the construction of the surgery, is known to survive to parapet level and may run under the existing Riverside Centre. In the future, consideration should be given to display of such remains within new developments on the site and elsewhere along Smithfield Road."

The Shrewsbury Big Town Plan Partnership wants to redevelop the area into a riverside destination. Plans involve demolishing a number of buildings including Riverside Shopping Centre, Raven Meadows multi-storey car park and the bus station.

Smithfield Road itself could also be moved further back from the river to create a new waterfront destination. New office buildings, a hotel, apartments and public open spaces all form part of the potential plans, while Frankwell bridge is also set to be replaced with a fresh design.

Earlier this month a fresh consultation was launched on the project, known as the Smithfield Development Framework, earlier this month.

Councillor Ed Potter, portfolio holder for economic growth, planning and regeneration at Shropshire Council said at the time: “Good planning can help us improve the places we live and protect the things that are important to us.

“The SDF sets out a vision for the Smithfield Riverside and can allow feedback on that vision.

“We are calling on everyone to have their say on this framework – it is vital to the process that as many people take part as possible so we can build a really robust and exciting plan for the future."

The full riverside plan is available to view at shrewsburybigtown plan.org/projects/smithfield-river side-sdf/

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