Wednesday, 15 February 2012

News - War museum passes first planning step (Newark)

District planners have given the green light to plans to create a national Civil War museum in Newark.
The application — put forward by Newark and Sherwood District Council — features a glass extension between the Palace Theatre and the Georgian Old Magnus Buildings, as well as internal and external alterations.

Its planning committee expressed reservations about how a modern glass extension would look, but approved the proposal.

However, because the council cannot determine its own applications, it will go to the Government for a final decision.

The committee was told the buildings had been empty since 2005 and, including the Tudor Hall that dates from 1532, were grade two listed for protection, putting them in the top 6% of heritage assets in the country.

A bid seeking £3.5m has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for the project.

The committee was told the Civil War museum would have national and international significance and could attract 60,000 visitors a year.

It would also feature exhibitions relating to other parts of Newark’s history and the history of the wider area, as well as offering educational and meeting space, a café and a shop.

The vice-chairman, Mr Ben Wells, was the only committee member to vote against the proposal.

He described the glass block as a “carbuncle, a monstrosity to be placed in the centre of Newark” as well as dull, boring and uninspiring.

Mrs Sue Saddington felt the design was too clinical and could be home to flats, a hospital or similar instead of a building of culture.

Mr Dennis Jones suggested the glass frontage be etched with images of Roundheads and Cavaliers.

Mr Julian Hamilton said the buildings’ progression through the ages appeared disjointed.

He said: “It doesn’t look like a museum to me. It doesn’t look appealing. There is a lack of originality.

“However, what is behind the facade will be an iconic museum making Newark a destination rather than a visit.”

The cabinet member for leisure, Mr Roger Jackson, told the committee that the glass and the visible steel girders behind it were necessary to house a complicated lift system opening at different levels and in different directions, a requirement of the Disability Discrimination Act.

The committee felt they would have a chance to tweak the scheme as the process went on.

Committee chairman Mr David Payne said: “It is an important project, an exciting project. It is the council’s own project.”

Describing the glass section of frontage, he said: “It’s novel for Newark but not for the rest of the country.”


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