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No buildings of local interest listed in Newport put down to an ‘anomaly’

By Alex Moore | Newport | News | Published:

Newport currently has no listed “local interest buildings”, but the cabinet member in charge of heritage says this is an anomaly and hopes to change this.

Ruth and Terry Otter live in Lock House, a former tickethouse along the Newport-Shropshire Canal. Picture: Ruth and Terry Otter

Carolyn Healy said Telford & Wrekin Council’s plans to update and expand the list were an opportunity to engage local communities in understanding their heritage and to nominate buildings that matter to them.

Newport councillor Tim Nelson has invited Councillor Healy to tour the town, and says the canal is an example of an environment that needs protecting.

Ruth and Terry Otter live in Lock House, designed by Thomas Telford, off Broomfield Road just yards from the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal. They say designating the entire bankside area as a conservation zone would provide ideal protection and would welcome inclusion on the local list.

Councillor Healy told cabinet: “Across the borough, we’ve got many statutory listed building and structures. These are the Grade I and II-listed buildings held on the national register by Historic England and they’re subject to strict protections through the planning system.

“But there are many other buildings that are valuable to our local communities and that contribute to the character and distinctiveness of our local areas. These are held on the local list.”

Cabinet approved her recommendation to consult on inclusion criteria and a review procedure, then use this to produce a new list. “The current list hasn’t been reviewed for a very long time and there are some anomalies in that list,” Councillor Healy added.

“In particular, Newport has no properties on the local list. Undoubtedly there are buildings of local interest in Newport.”

Councillor Nelson, who represents Newport North and West, has invited Councillor Healy to tour the town and discuss built environment heritage. “My colleagues are very welcome to join in and when I know the date I shall invite them,” he added.

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He said Historic England does not support listing Mr and Mrs Otter’s home nationally, but he has approached Telford & Wrekin conservation specialists about extending the existing Newport Conservation Area to include it and the canal.

“This may yet come to pass, and would provide a measure of protection,” he said.

Mrs Otter said: “We have spent the last four years renovating our Lock House into the 21st century whilst carefully retaining its original features and character.”

She said it was “almost uninhabitable” when they moved in, but now has energy-efficient modifications, including a heat source pump and heat-recovery ventilation while retaining an authentic period design.

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“Everyone assumes it is listed,” she said.

“Even the conservation officer had to go away and check.”

The retired couple said they knew of eight more lock houses built to the Telford design, but Mrs Otter said “few are still recognisable” and some of the changes made “horrified” them.

The area around the Shropshire Union Canal in Staffordshire is automatically considered a conservation area, placing restrictions on planning permission. Mr and Mrs Otter say they want the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal environment to have similar protection.

Presenting her plan to Telford and Wrekin’s cabinet, Cllr Healy pointed out that inclusion on the LIB list would allow residents to make minor alterations, but the status would be a “material consideration” in cases where planning permission was needed.

Mrs Otter said: “If the house was sold to someone who didn’t care as much, it could be demolished or altered or anything.

“We just think these buildings deserve protecting.”

Alex Moore

By Alex Moore
@TelfordLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Telford.

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