Bid to turn derelict shop into community hub

A group bidding to turn a derelict shop into a community hub has lodged its plans with Shropshire Council.

Bishop’s Castle Community Land Trust (BCCLT) wants to renovate the former Stars newsagent at 68-70 Church Street, which has been closed for six years.

There are also ambitions to refurbish the upstairs flat and extend it to a two-bed, and to create a new one-bed flat to the rear of the shop on the ground floor.

Both properties will be ‘affordable homes’ for local people in housing need.

After launching a campaign last year for Shropshire Council to exercise its compulsory purchase order powers to buy the “eyesore” building, the trust was able to buy the shop itself earlier this year thanks to the late William Bainbridge, who left part of his estate to the trust.

A statement submitted with the planning application says: “The newsagents shop ceased trading in 2015 and the first floor apartment has also been unoccupied since then.

“Between 2015 and the present day the previous owners attempted to re-let the building but were unsuccessful.

“Unfortunately, during this period the condition of the property deteriorated due to lack of maintenance.

“Consequently, it presents as an eyesore in the street scene and has a detrimental effect on the appearance and character of the conservation area and town centre.”

The statement says there will be “minimal alteration” to respect the building’s historic character and setting.

It says: “The proposals have been designed to reinstate, preserve and enhance the character of the building within its setting, taking into account the remaining traditional features (for example the sash windows and entrance door to number 68) and where these are absent, or have been inappropriately replaced (for example the shop front on number 70 and canopy over the door to number 68), reinstating them with new or refurbished features.”

The statement says the trust also hopes to refurbish the former abattoir building behind the shop to use for storage, if it can be acquired from its current owner, Shropshire Council.

It adds: “The conversion to residential use of the building will safeguard its future whilst, at the same time, provide much needed affordable housing for the town, in the same way that BCCLT’s earlier scheme at the rear of the Kings Head did.”

The trust aims to start work “as soon as planning permission is granted”, which it hopes will be later this summer.

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