Historic former shop building to become community hub

A derelict shop is to get a new lease of life as a local hub after plans put forward by a community group were given the green light by Shropshire Council.

An artist's impression of how the community hub could look.
An artist's impression of how the community hub could look.

Bishop’s Castle Community Land Trust (BCCLT) has been granted planning permission to renovate the former Stars newsagents at 68-70 Church Street, which has started to fall into disrepair after six years of lying vacant.

The plans also include the refurbishment of the upstairs flat which will be extended into a two-bed, and the creation of 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, and the trust says the rental income will help to safeguard the future of the community hub.

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.

The building, which is thought to be 200 years old, lies within the town’s conservation area and is recognised as a ‘non-designated heritage asset’.

The trust says “minimal alterations” will be made to the building in order to respect its historic character and setting, with plans to sensitively restore some of its original features.

A report by planning officer Mandy Starr says: “The proposed news works would not result in any harm to or loss of significance to this part of the conservation area, as all of the works proposed would materially enhance this building and bring it back into use.

“In addition there would be material added benefits by using the existing shop unit as a community hub shop for the town.

“Local people in housing need would also benefit from the two new flat units to be provided in a building that would be compliant with modern building regulations.

“The building is an important part of the street scene and is linked to other residential properties that form the backbone of Church Street.

“The redevelopment as proposed would bring this heritage asset back into use, whilst at the same time ensuring that its historic frontage of the shop front and its associated residential features are able to be reinstated and utilised accordingly.”

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