New College, in Wellington, was bought by Telford and Wrekin Council in March 2019, and a cabinet report at the time called it a “key site” with “potential to make a significant contribution” to regenerating the area.
Outline plans drawn up by the authority propose up to 64 retirement flats, 10 retirement bungalows, 26 market homes and a community sports facility on the six-acre site. The Grade II listed former girl’s school building, on the Regent Street side, would remain intact.
Wellington Town Council Planning Committee chairman Giles Luter said the proposal was “the largest investment in a generation” in the town, but Councillor John Latter said the area had a “huge parking problem as it is” and the development would exacerbate this.
Labour member Councillor Latter, whose College ward incorporates the site, said a 110-space car park off Mill Lane was currently taking the pressure off the area, especially on days services were held in the town’s mosques.
Council plans show the retirement flats would be served by 33 parking spaces, primarily intended for visitors’ and carers’ use, rather than residents’, with 14 more for the 10 retirement bungalows. The proposed Wellington BA Amateur Boxing Club premises would have 12 spaces.
Councillor Latter said this would not be enough and would lead to overflow onto the Mill Lane car park and surrounding streets.
“It’s going to cause huge congestion,” he said.
“They’re shoehorning too many properties into the area and not giving parking provision for the whole area.”
Councillor Luter said New College had 1,400 people on site when in use, and said he didn’t think the traffic would be much different from then. Councillor Latter said this was not a fair comparison, as “only a small minority” of students had cars, with the majority travelling on foot or by public transport.
Councillor Luter said: “While we do have concerns, we also do have to take into account that there isn’t really another viable use of that site. Do we want a large empty site in our town?
“This is the start of a £30+ million investment in Wellington, the largest investment in a generation, and, in the current climate, that is a huge boost for Wellington’s economy.”
“We’ve had sites such as the Clifton [Cinema] and the old Haygate pub which have just been left. This plan, really, has a lot of elements that are positive for the community.”
All committee members except Conservative Dorothy Roberts voted to submit feedback welcoming the investment but raising concerns about traffic and parking.
Councillor Roberts said the borough council’s planning department “wouldn’t take any notice” unless they objected outright or withheld support until the concerns were addressed.