Plans for apartments in water tower could be refused

Plans for an art deco-style renovation to create two apartments in an old tower have been released.

The powerhouse tower, known locally as the Water Tower, used to form part of a mental institution which has now closed. It is the last remaining part of the old building.

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Now, new houses are proposed around the base of the tower, on the site of the former Balderton Hospital, in Goldstraw Lane, Fernwood.

However planning bosses have recommended that permission be refused on the grounds that there is insufficient on-site parking.

It is thought building work on the tower started in the 1930s, but war-time halted construction when a large Victorian house on the site was used by officers from Balderton airfield.

Work recommenced in 1945 but was not finally finished until 1957- when it was opened by the then Minister of Health Enoch Powell, who later went on to give the infamous Rivers of Blood Speech.

Despite its name – the Water Tower – the building was actually built as a chimney, not a water tower at the old hospital. It is thought to be one of the last of its type that was ever built.

Now, developers hope to build two apartments in the actual tower, and a host of new homes around it.

A planning application has been submitted to Newark and Sherwood District Council for 13 homes.

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Back in 2015, a plan was submitted which would have seen the building demolished and new houses built in its place.

This plan was rejected back then on the grounds that losing the tower would be a loss for the area.

Another plan was later approved which would have been the building converted into a restaurant and bar. This scheme never came to fruition.
However with the latest scheme, concerns have been raised by residents in nearby houses about a perceived of car parking spaces assigned for the new development.

Currently 19 parking spaces are planned, for 13 properties.
Fernwood resident David Heath said: “I do support the application as a general idea because a lot of people here would like to see the water tower developed and retained because it’s an iconic part of Fernwood.

“The principle of having a residential development there is also okay, but there’s two significant elements I’m concerned about.

“Firstly parking is a perennial problem, and I believe the number they’ve proposed is most definitely not enough. So if they can change it and maybe reduce the number of dwellings that could work.

“Secondly, the maintenance of Fernwood is privately maintained. The majority of residents pay a monthly charge for the maintenance and there’s no mention of these new properties contributing towards the cost.”
The council’s planning experts say the building should be refused because: “The proposal does not provide for sufficient on-site parking.

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“Consequently the development would likely further increase on street parking and parking on the shared foot and cycleway in the vicinity resulting in an increase in the likelihood of danger to other users of the highway due to the likelihood of vehicles being parked on the public highway, and exacerbate these existing problems within this area.”

A report by the council’s planning experts about the tower says: “Its completed construction after the Second World War means that it was probably one of the latest power houses commissioned prior to the nationalization of electricity supply and such structures were characteristic in providing power to large institutions, which in this case was Balderton Hospital.
“Its architecture therefore also reinforces the individual sense of place.
“In terms of its significance, the tower is representative of the historic art-deco architectural trend of the 1930s.

“Its height and simple (but brutal-like) form also provides some aesthetic appeal, which is celebrated and emphasized by its positioning at the head of Ruby’s Walk as a striking feature at the end of this vista. However, it is also acknowledged that the tower has lost its historic context.”

The plan is due to be decided by the council’s planning committee on Tuesday, September 4.