DESTROYING NEWARK HERITAGE: ROBIN HOOD HOTEL

Destroying Newark Heritage: Robin Hood Hotel

“ůsuch a shame that while the literature of Jane Austen continues to be enjoyed and valued, the buildings and settings that truly bring the spirit of that age alive are being allowed to decay.”  Chris Healy, Newark builder.


The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) has objected to plans to demolish the Grade II-listed Robin Hood Hotel, 1-3 Lombard Street, Newark.

Britain’s oldest conservation body has written to Newark and Sherwood Council objecting to proposals to replace the prominently-sited historic building with a bland 66-bedroom Travelodge Hotel.

SPAB maintains that the importance of the Robin Hood Hotel has been under-estimated by the council and that its repair problems have been over-estimated. Along with local heritage groups, the Society believes there can still be a positive, sustainable future for this unique group of significant buildings.

Although the three buildings that form the Robin Hood have been left unappreciated since 1999, SPAB’s inspections five years ago concluded that the former hotel was in a generally fair condition, and that repair and reuse was achievable.

The Nottinghamshire Building Preservation Trust (NBPT) was awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to explore alternative uses for the set of buildings.

David Atkins, Honorary Secretary of NBPT says: 'The building group provides the only remaining example of two-storey 18th century town houses left in Newark built at a time of expansion after the removal of the city walls. The owner has allowed them to deteriorate but conservation and future use are still an option which NBPT is anxious to deliver'

The NBPT estimate that the conservation of this site and its conversion to offices will cost around £750,000 but they believe that this amount could be met by an Heritage Enterprise Grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Emma Lawrence, SPAB’s head of Casework, says: “We believe that the loss of the buildings in this important corner location would have a serious and detrimental effect on Newark’s wider townscape and on the Conservation Area. The bland modern offering of the hotel is certainly not a worthy replacement.

“The three buildings that make up Robin Hood Hotel are rare examples of elegant town houses of the 18th and 19th century. These would have been incredibly fashionable dwellings. They show the changing tastes that moved up from the south of England during this period but they also showcase local materials - red brick and pantile roofs.”

Chris Healy, Newark builder and SPAB member, is involved with the local movement to save Robin Hood Hotel.  He says: “The interior of the middle townhouse recalls the writings of Jane Austen. It is such a shame that while the literature of Austen continues to be enjoyed and valued, the buildings and settings that truly bring the spirit of that age alive are being allowed to decay.”

SPAB’s Emma Lawrence adds: “These buildings should be cherished. They should be an asset to the town, something that Newark is, rightly, proud of. It is so sad and short-sighted to see them left to decline. Buildings like the Robin Hood Hotel chart the social history, fashions and changing fortunes of a distinct area, and the story can continue if these buildings are respectfully adapted for modern use.”

Ends



For more information please contact Alison McClary, communications officer at the SPAB alison@spab.org.uk / 020 7456 0908

Notes for editors
Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB)
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) was founded by William Morris over 125 years ago to care for and preserve the UK’s architectural heritage. Since its foundation, SPAB has been committed to maintenance matters, in line with William Morris’ exhortation to: “Stave off decay by daily care.”  Today it is a dynamic organisation, and registered charity (no. 231307), taking building conservation into the future.  To find out more visit www.spab.org.uk

SPAB's casework
In England and Wales, the Society has a statutory role in the secular planning system. As directed by the Secretary of State, the SPAB is one of six National Amenity Societies that must be notified by local planning authorities of all applications that involve the total or partial demolition of a listed building, giving us an opportunity to comment on the proposed scheme.