Derelict newsagent to be brought 'back to life' by flats and hub plan

A trust's green-lit plans to convert a derelict newsagents into flats and a community hub will bring the building "back to life".

Derick and Maurice Phillips, whose family used to run the Stars Newsagents in Bishop's Castle
Derick and Maurice Phillips, whose family used to run the Stars Newsagents in Bishop's Castle

Shropshire Council has granted full planning permission to the Bishop's Castle Community Land Trust for its project to create two flats for local people, along with a community space in part of the former Stars Newsagent's at 68-70 Church Street.

The chairman of the trust, Jim Gaffney, said: "This is very exciting news, and a key milestone in our efforts to bring this building in the heart of the town back to life."

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

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

Shropshire Council gave the project the green light after the trust said “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.

The upstairs flat will be extended into a two-bed, and a new one-bed flat to the rear of the shop on the ground floor will be created.

Jonathan Brown, from the trust, said many people in Bishop's Castle have fond memories of using the Stars as a newsagents, when it was owned by the Phillips family.

The old Stars newsagents, Church Street, Bishops Castle

This week, Derick Phillips, aged 96, along with his younger brother, Maurice, were interviewed in the shop. They shared their memories of getting up at 5.30am to sort the newspapers, and described some of the local characters who were their customers.

Jonathan said: "A highlight for them was the year 1973, when along with nearly everyone else in the town, they dressed up in medieval costume to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the town's charter being granted by Queen Elizabeth the first.

Derick and Maurice Phillips, whose family used to run the Stars Newsagents in Bishop's Castle

"The brothers are very happy that the trust has brought the building into community ownership and are looking forward to being invited to the opening in 2022.

"The interview was videoed by local film maker Duncan Burns, and the finished film will be posted up on the trust's website and Facebook page."

Anyone wishing to support the renovation work, can donate by going to bcclt.co.uk/donate/.

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