A costly public inquiry to determine the fate of the derelict Robin Hood Hotel in Newark will not go ahead after the developer withdrew its planning applications.
The site owner, MF Strawson Ltd, is now expected to submit a new application within weeks that would see the retention and refurbishment of the remains — three townhouses — alongside the building of a hotel.
The withdrawn applications wanted to demolish the townhouses, which are listed for protection, and replace them with a 66-bedroom Travelodge.
The applications polarised opinion with some believing Strawsons should honour a commitment to refurbish the building, while others felt the eyesore should be demolished.
Mr Tim Bradford, of Strawsons’ agent, Banks Long & Co, said: “We are working to finalise a planning application, which we hope to be able to bring forward in due course.”
The news was welcomed by the leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, Mr Roger Blaney.
'Much need for hotel accommodation'
He said: “This is a positive move. I very much hope there will now be a resolution to the long-running saga of the Robin Hood much sooner than was expected.
“I hope this move will address the many concerns over this application from the people who wanted to see it demolished and those that wanted it retained.
“There is much need for hotel accommodation in Newark.”
Strawsons is working with the district council and Historic England ahead of its new application.
The Robin Hood, on Beaumond Cross, has been empty since 1999. The unlisted parts were demolished in 2010, leaving the 18th Century townhouses.
Nottinghamshire Building Preservation Trust wanted to preserve the buildings and had proposed turning them into offices in an estimated £1m project.
Trust chairman Mr Peter Duncan said: “As might be expected, the trust warmly welcomes this change of heart on the part of the developer and keenly looks forward to seeing the revised planning application that is now being spoken of.
“Hopefully, this will sufficiently satisfy all interested parties so that we shall see early progress towards resolving this long-running saga, in the best interests of all the people of Newark.”
Strawsons bought the building, along with the district council-owned Potterdyke carpark, in 2003 and put together a development proposal for the site that saw Asda, a doctors’ surgery and retail outlets built.
Restoration of the Robin Hood townhouses, which were listed in 1971, should have been completed by November 2015 under the planning consent for the Asda-led development.
The district council granted permission for demolition and replacement with the Travelodge in March of last year, but members also referred the applications to the National Planning Casework Unit, which decided to send it to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Mr Sajid Javid, for a decision.
Newark MP Mr Robert Jenrick asked for the approvals to be called-in, arguing that the demolition of the listed structure would be almost without precedent.
Historic England supported the call-in.
Mr Javid agreed the matter should be determined at a public inquiry.
It was due to start on May 15 and last 12 days.
Mr Jenrick said the withdrawal of the planning applications was good news.
“The message very firmly now needs to be that their proposal was not appropriate and we need to move forward either with full restoration or with a compromise whereby they can build the hotel while still preserving something of the historic street scene,” he said.
“I will be pushing very strongly for either of these options.”
The Planning Inspectorate confirmed the applications had been withdrawn and the local inquiry cancelled.