Restoration of Newport footpath is 'essential', councillor says
A town councillor said that the restoration of a public walkway through the heart of the town is "essential" to the area's future.
A developer hopes to transform Newport's disused Royal Victoria Hotel into 15 flats while maintaining the Georgian exterior.
Town and borough councillor Tim Nelson said he supports bringing the building back into use, but only if a walkway that previously existed on the site is provided again. The hotel has been shut for over five years and the car park, which was often used informally as a go-between connecting the town centre and Water Lane (and by extension the canal, Victoria Park and the swimming pool) is inaccessible.
Now the building is covered in scaffolding, while developers Town Centre Properties recently applied for permission to build another storey containing three more flats, on top of the 12 for which they had already obtained permission.
Cllr Nelson said that while the developers were within their rights to keep the walkway shut, he is backed by other town councillors.
"It's no secret that we are really, really precious about seeing the Vic brought back into use of some kind. We are really unhappy about the scaffolding – it is not development at any cost though.
"What is essential for the future of the town is getting a pathway between Water Lane and St Mary's Street, like there was for a hundred years before."
He said that he took the path – a "fundamental amenity" – for granted when it was accessible, and that restoring access from the centre of the town down to Water Lane would make it easier for residents to get access to the town's green spaces and its leisure centre.
At present the only publicly accessible footpaths between St Mary's Street and Victoria Park are down Lower Bar and around Cosy Hall, or up the High Street and along Stafford Street and much of Water Lane.
Cllr Nelson said that the distance can deter walkers and cyclists, and that restoring the footpath would encourage people to be healthier and happier.
Town mayor and borough councillor Peter Scott meanwhile said that he would not comment on any application as he is a member of the borough council's planning committee, but admitted that he has received "hundreds" of messages from members of the public complaining about the scaffolding which surrounds the hotel.
"I have got a lot of critical comments about the state of the building. Lots of people want to see some kind of resolution on it.
"I would urge anyone with an opinion to comment on the applications."
Applications can be viewed through the planning section of the council's website, telford.gov.uk/site/.
The borough council's 'healthy spaces' team suggested that in light of three additional flats being added, the developers should further commit to contributing money to improving the green space and play area at Victoria Park.
Their statement said: "These dwellings do not provide sufficient garden space for the proposed two and three bedroom properties.
"New residents to the area will increase demand upon the existing play/recreational resource and this is particularly relevant if there is insufficient garden space proposed."
The developers have been approached for comment.