Town Council stakes its claim
Which buildings and sites in the town should be nominated as assets of community value? This was on the agenda of Stone Town Council’s July 17th Development Sub-Committee meeting.
The Localism Act allows town and parish councils to nominate buildings and land as assets of community value. If listed, and Stafford Borough Council has the final decision, the town council would be notified if they were put up for sale and would have six months to make a bid. However, the bid would be on the open market, so there would be no guarantee of the Town Council buying them.
A previous General Purposes Committee meeting had proposed Westbridge Park and Northesk Street car park. Owned by Staffordshire Police, Northesk Street car park may be sold off and redeveloped when the Police sell their adjoining Radford Street HQ and downsize into Stone Town Council Offices.
In late July, the Borough Council accepted the Westbridge Park nomination, making so ‘Keep Westbridge Park Green’ supporters hope, it more difficult for part of it to be sold and redeveloped.
However, the Northesk Street car park nomination has been rejected. According to the borough council’s monitoring officer Alastair Welch, listing it as an asset of community value does not further “the social well-being or social interest of the Stone community”.
But Town Councillor Rob Kenney has called for this decision to be challenged. With Stone’s only other free car park at Crown Wharf in line for development, Cllr Kenney believes that all car parks in the town have community value.
Cllr Kenney proposed that all carparks, parks and playgrounds should be listed, too, as well as the Crown Hotel.
The Crown Hotel recently re-opened under new owners, London-based Redmoor Investments, but their long-term plans for the hotel are not clear. Its accommodation has been open since the early summer and the bar area has since re-opened as well. The Gazette has attempted on numerous occasions to get more information, but this has not been forthcoming.
“With the concerns over the recent sale of the Crown Hotel I thought it was a perfect building to be listed as a Community asset,” Cllr Kenney told the Gazette. “If we do this, it would mean that if in the future it is put up for sale again it would allow a six month period for the community of Stone to possibly put a bid together.”
“A successful bid would secure the future of the Crown for many years. The hotel could be used for many community uses as well as remaining a hotel. Who knows, maybe in the future Stone Town Council could possibly be based in part of the building with the ballroom used as a theatre-cum-cinema? The possible uses are endless!”