Shropshire Star

Concerns raised that Newport properties are being converted for ‘part-time’ university students

Concerns have been raised that a cluster of buildings on a Shropshire high street are being converted for ‘part-time’ occupation.

Plans have been submitted to convert Old Post Office (right) on Newport High Street into two houses and ground floor commercial unit. Picture: Google

Plans are being considered by Telford & Wrekin Council for the Old Post Office on Newport High Street to be converted into two homes each containing five bedrooms.

The proposal for the former Haberdasher Adams boarding building includes a new ground floor commercial unit facing the High Street.

The total of 10 bedrooms would be created across the two homes proposed, but no car parking is provided.

Newport Town Council ‘welcomed’ the proposal to improve the fabric of the historic building and supported the opening a new commercial unit. However, they raised ‘concerns’ about the impact on parking issues in the town if a home of multiple occupation with no new parking is approved.

Newport and District Civic Society objected to the proposal after raising fears that ‘all the properties’ formerly used as boarding houses by Haberdasher Adams are being converted into living accommodation for Harper Adams students.

They argued that the centre of Newport ‘needs apartments’ and highlighted that students are away during parts of the year.

“This is not the type of part-time/short period occupation that Telford & Wrekin Council advocate for permanent residents in the centre of town to bring life back into the centre of town all year round,” they argued.

A planning and design statement prepared by Base Architecture & Design Ltd stated that 117 High Street forms part of a cluster of buildings that front High Street and were previously part of the neighbouring Adams Grammar School for teaching and boarding space.

Each of the buildings within the cluster is Grade II listed for their ‘special architectural interest’.

“The scheme seeks to provide an improved appearance to the existing historic fabric, to align with the adjacent heritage assets within the existing street scene,” said the design statement.

“Internal amendments have been carefully considered to ensure that the existing historic fabric is retained or enhanced as a result of the works.

“The existing site does not benefit from vehicular access to the rear, with pedestrian access only achievable through the main buildings.”

The building has previously been used for a combination of classroom, storage and administration spaces, with faculty accommodation at second floor facing the High Street.

“There is evidence that the spaces have been previously modified or are extensions to the original building," added the design statement.

“A number of traditional features are visible, however it would appear that a number of these may be modern additions to align with the areas of extension.

“The majority of visible heritage features are contained within the second floor spaces and appear to be related to the roof structure.”

Submitted plans for the ground floor shows a commercial/retail unit fitted with a toilet, store and kitchenette.

Plans for the properties show five bedrooms for each of the two properties across three floors. Each of the properties also contains a kitchen, dining area, living area, bathrooms and a snug/games room.

The application says that to provide the properties there will be a review of the existing internal layouts on each floor including party wall separation.

There will also be a relocation of the existing access staircase to account for a new staircase.

“There will be a minor increase in the overall scale of the buildings, through the infill of the existing passageway at ground floor however, the amendments will be contained to within the footprint of the original building fronting High Street,” the application adds.

“The extensions are necessary to facilitate conversion and will preserve the building.”

Telford & Wrekin Council has approved listed building permission for the internal alterations of the proposal to take place.

However, the local authority is yet to decide the full application which the council says will take into account concerns around parking and the properties' use.