Work to convert Victorian landmark into homes and community space could be finished in 2022

Work to convert a Victorian landmark in Telford into homes and community space could be finished by the end of 2022, parish councillors have heard.

The Gower
The Gower

Plans to put 19 homes, along with function rooms and offices, on the site of The Gower, were included in a business case for Nuplace Ltd – Telford & Wrekin’s housing company – that was approved by the borough’s cabinet earlier this month.

Housing Investment Programme Manager Kate Callis told St Georges and Priorslee Parish Council a contractor to carry out the work would be appointed by the end of next week.

But, replying to questions from members, she said the new additions meant the St George’s site’s existing play area will need to be removed, but funding could be secured to upgrade other facilities in the area. Additional off-site parking nearby may be needed for function room users to prevent crowding the site, Ms Callis added.

An artist's impression of the refurbished Gower building (Picture: Nuplace Ltd / Telford and Wrekin Council)

Built in 1873, the grade II listed Gower School House, on Gower Street, originally served as a cottage hospital before converting into a school. It closed in 1960.

Ms Callis and Prosperity and Investment Director James Dunn gave a presentation to parish councillors about Nuplace’s plans.

They said the one wing of the building would house function space, office space, a kitchen and toilets, but added these “flexible” plans would be finalised later.

Three two-bedroom flats would be installed in the opposite wing, and 16 one-and two-bedroom houses would be built in three new wings projecting from the back of the building, Ms Callis said.

Blueprints shown to the councillors showed 13 parking spaces in the north of the site and 24 to the east side.

Councillor Ian Fletcher asked Ms Callis to clarify whether there would be enough parking space on-site to accommodate the homes and the community spaces together.

Ms Callis said current plans covered the homes’ but not the community space’s needs.

“We need to either accommodate additional parking on-site somehow or find space adjacent to the existing building where we can provide some off-site parking,” she said.

“There is space to accommodate more parking on-site, but that needs to be weighed against how that impacts on the heritage benefits of the building and whether it detracts from it.”

She said Telford and Wrekin Council was exploring providing that parking space on a piece of land it owns across the street from the Gower.

Councillor Stephen Handley asked whether the plans included retention of the play area at the rear of The Gower.

Ms Callis said: “We are not going to be able to accommodate the play park within the site proposals, no. I think the intention is, through Section 106 contributions, we would look to upgrade other facilities within the locality.”

Section 106 of the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act allows local authorities to negotiate financial contributions from planning permission applicants.

A provisional timetable in Mr Dunn’s and Ms Callis’s presentation showed they expected to apply for planning permission in April 2021, with a view to starting on site in October and finishing a year later.

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