Park move about ‘making money before children’s safety’
That’s the verdict of protestors who gathered at Albion Bank this morning to demonstrate about the plans for a park.
“We are trying to save the Gower building and communal areas including the play park” they told Telford Live!
“…the top of the Albion Bank is a very very dangerous place for a park. The Gower has or had the best kept park in the area all done by volunteers”
The Gower in St Georges has been the subject of a local campaign to bring the old school back into use. Threatened with demolition in 2014, a year later, £650k had been earmarked by Telford & Wrekin for it’s renovation and bringing back into use. This would leave £700k to find to complete the project.
The Parish Council considered taking on a loan to make up the shortfall and get the project underway, but following discussions with Telford & Wrekin Council this was rejected in Sept 2020 in favour of a development which would see Nuplace houses for rent built on the site. The press were excluded from this meeting.
Lynne Shepherd who chairs the management group said “Applications TWC/2021/0722 and TWC/2021/0724 have been submitted by Nuplace Ltd. to the Telford and Wrekin planning authority for the erection of 14 new dwellings and conversion of the Grade II listed Gower building to provide 3 new dwellings, a community facility and parish council offices.
“It feels like a slap in the face,” said Lynne, “after all the fundraising and volunteer hours we’ve put in to come up with a workable plan. I urge everyone to reject the council plans for The Gower.”
Councillor Lee Carter, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood, Commercial Services & Regeneration said: “Telford & Wrekin Council fully recognise that The Gower is an extremely iconic asset in the local community and it is our priority to ensure that a scheme is delivered which not only protects the future of the historic building but also finds an appropriate use for it.
There have been a number of failed attempts by community groups to bring forward a financially viable scheme for the site and unfortunately this has only led to the site being sterilised. The building would have fallen into greater disrepair had we not invested to fix the roof and secure the site. Recently the Parish Council fully explored options to turn the entire building into a community facility but again the independent advice received showed it was not financially viable given the cost of conversion.
“It is realistic to think that with the financial investment from the Council the listed building can be used both as a community asset and deliver good quality housing, ensuring there is a long term future for the building.”
Lucy Allan, MP for Telford, fully supports local residents on this issue. She said, “I think it is fundamental that the Council listens to local residents. I am concerned that the Council believes this is a suitable site for their own Nuplace Housing Scheme, and that this money making housing scheme has suddenly led to them withdrawing their support from using this historic and much loved building for community purposes.”
Should planning be approved, the development will be completed in 2023.
4 thoughts on “Park move about ‘making money before children’s safety’”
The report from councillor Lee Carter is incorrect. The Gower Heritage and Enterprise Foundation volunteers have given up thousands of hours of their time to get the building up and running as a centre of excellence. They had a business plan that was not over egged and would make the centre self sufficient within three years. The group had been about to be offered a substantial amount of money to put in offices, toilets and utilities, as the first phase of their vision but the council would not meet with Power to Change and would not give up the 10% match funding from the allocated funding. They requested that we refused the money. They then took the building back and have let all the hard work done go to rack and ruin. The council have told everyone that no funding was found which is a absolute lie.
In bringing forward the scheme for Nuplace the council did not consider the financial viability of the Gower Charity’s plans.Although the loan was not secured the Parish Council raised the precept to pay for the Parish offices . With a bit more effort at proper collaboration a workable scheme for the Gower as a community centre would be possible. I wonder if in moving the play park the council has considered in its financial calculations the cost of the remedial ground works, road safety measures and on going maintenance. It’s a cynical ploy to fob off the people of St Georges.
The council wanted The Gower Heritage to fail and must have been shaking in their shoes from the power and determination the group had. When money was sourced they decided that this could not happen and pulled the building from their clutches. They blocked everything they did, over the years but they carried on. Some might think them foolish whereas others admire their tenacity. We cannot allow such bullying and underhandedness within the council. We must stand firm and show everyone what the council are like.
I would recommend using the Freedom of information act and writing to the council and asking your questions. By law the council have to respond and those responses have to be accurate and honest.
You normally have 20 working days to respond to a request. For a request to be valid under the Freedom of Information Act it must be in writing, but requesters do not have to mention the Act or direct their request to a designated member of staff.
Use this email address
Freedom of Information
Make sure your questions are specific otherwise you will not get the answers you require. Perhaps your parish clerk can help you with the wording and maybe suggest questions to ask in order to get the responses you require.