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Planning Application 17/05538/FUL for the Stew Frankwell Quay Shrewsbury 2017

Planning Application 17/05538/FUL  for The Stew, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury, December 2017.


Along with a number of other local and national groups and many residents, Shrewsbury Civic Society has been concerned about this building for years. It is again the subject of what we think is an inappropriate planning application. We are very keen for a speedy development but not the wrong one.


The Stew has been left unloved for many years and deserves a good quality sympathetic rejuvenation to help it pay for itself. We think it is “non-designated heritage asset of regional significance”. (That’s what the Planning Inspector said on ruling that it could not be demolished.)


The application is to enlarge the structure, turning all but the ground floor into apartments. It would entail removing some walls and the roof, adding another floor, a large glazed side extension and two dish-shaped roofs. The Civic Society believes that the plan is wrong for Shrewsbury and for the building.  Too little of the historic Stew would be retained. Its important history in Shrewsbury’s development as a river port would be belittled and the new storey and roofs would be excessively dominant.  The proposal is wrong for the Frankwell Quayside area (whose previous plans do not include accommodation anyway).

So Shrewsbury Civic Society is objecting.












  1. The modern additions, especially the extra storey and roof, would dominate the building’s appearance, over-powering its heritage characteristics and its architecture.
  2. The proposed dish-shaped roofs are alien even to the modern surrounding buildings.
  3. The plan would greatly reduce the Stew’s “important positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area”.
  4. A scheme that is mostly providing accommodation would mar the potential economic opportunities for the Frankwell quayside and its partnership with the Glen Maltings.
  5. After over a decade of waiting, Shrewsbury should not accept this ill-fitting scheme when better ones and economic solutions are unexplored.
  6. The scheme pays insufficient attention to local policies/plans and inspectors’ rulings.

We hope the Shropshire Local Planning Authority will help protect Shrewsbury from such an inappropriate scheme.

Facts and irregularities concerning the Stew’s recent history.

1982 An application for demolition was refused. (There may have been others.)
1997 SABC Frankwell Design Brief suggests roles for The Stew & The Maltings in the Quayside’s
future. (Several others’ plans also value the buildings, eg “Shrewsbury Vision”)
2004 (October) In negotiating to sell the lease, The Stew’s then owner, SABC reported that “The..
(prospective)..purchasers are taking all the risk ..with a planning application.”

2006 A full-maintenance 999-year lease was finally signed between a developer and SABC. The developer had an understanding that the Stew could be demolished. (This assurance was unwisely given and unwisely acted upon.)
2007 An application for The Stew’s demolition presented technical documentation which misrepresented its origin. This application was refused by the then Planning Committee and a subsequent Appeal was withdrawn at the last minute.
2008 (Dec.) A Section.215 Order was issued to enforce basic maintenance. Neither have the Conditions of the lease been enforced. Thus the building is neglected but structural sound..
2009 (March) The Sec 215 Order was not rescinded, despite the Council reforming as a Unitary
Council. The new Theatre was opened, followed by the Guildhall. These developments
greatly reduced the number of buildings that reflect Frankwell’s rich past.
2013 A new application for the Stew’s demolition was submitted but found incomplete and the applicant was given more time to correct it. This application did not reveal the previous attempts, despite the requirement to do so.
The property was not offered for sale to test its economic viability within a conservation area.
There were no notices attached to the building when the application was first made.
2014 The application’s determination was refused by delegated powers in May. These applications ignored the advice of English Heritage (and now Historic England) and a number of other respected organisations. There were several occasions when the developer
made late submissions to Applications or Appeals, including missing documents.
2015 Through the year, a 15-day Appeal Enquiry was heard at which the Inspector ruled that the building could not be demolished (December)
Objectors put forward alternative proposals for the building which have been disregarded.
2016 (January) A meeting was arranged for the developer to meeting with some of the key players
to discuss the building’s heritage value and possible uses. He failed attend. A basic repairs
list, agreed with the Council was not carried out.

The developer engaged a local architect to draw up plans for enlargement without
demolition. The brief was that some 1000sq ft would be needed to provide economic
sustainability. This need is not proven nor have other possible uses been explored.

2016 (July) The Civic Society applied to Historic England for Listed Status for the building in order
to protect it from unsympathetic alteration.

2017 (Feb) The Listing application was unsuccessful. Some basic maintenance work was reported.
The architect discussed his plans with the Civic Society, who advised a different approach.
Submission of this application was delayed for months, ostensibly while the
developer “waited for information from the Environment Agency and absence abroad”.
This latest plan is based on an idea to provide a “statement building to harmonise new and
old”. Unfortunately, this concept was encouraged by Shropshire Planning Authority staff.
The application is listed to be determined on 25th January 2018. Advice generally from
experts and Appeal Inspectors favours careful conservation of this prominent heritage asset.
Some historical findings concerning The Stew.

1334 Taxation records show Shrewsbury was the country’s 7th most prosperous town.
The name “Stew” probably came from the word for a (river-fed) pond holding fish to help feed
those in the adjacent medieval St George’s ‘hospital’ (ie offering hospitality).
1406 The Stew “comprising land, a croft and a dove cote” passed to James Dyer’s sons.
1462 Edward IV passed the “Dyer lands” on to the Drapers.
1471 Although disputed, a petition to the King, allowed the Drapers to retain “the croft called le
Stewe, croft with pond there in Frankwell, next to the chapel of St George and ….the bank of
Severn”. There are then records of their various lettings eg to T. Donne in 1553.

1713 The owners were the Scotts, of Betton Strange, who passed it to John Astley (a Little Berwick
Yeoman). He probably had the merchant’s house built, as it is now dated to early 1700s.
(This could have been on earlier structures as foundations dated about 1660 were found on
the Stew’s SE corner.)
The road between the Stew and the Maltings building was St George’s Waterlode and a main route to the early fortified bridge (of which footings still exist under the Theatre).
1730-on From the evidence that does exist, many historians deduce that The Stew was playing a
significant role in the river trade. (It is now Shrewsbury’s only such remaining building from
this period).

This was when Severn Trows were in their heyday and before the impact of the railways.

c.1830 The quay-side part of the building was erected as a warehouse and has extra strong roof
beams made of baltic pine.
The Stew has had several additions built on during Frankwell’s industrial period. (Victorian era and 20th Century.These are now removed leaving superficial scarring to the exterior.

The building has had several commercial uses since its role in Shrewsbury’s river-port
development. These were often associated with Frankwell’s industrial and commercial heritage,
which only ended in this century.
The modern Guildhall/University building design deliberately copied several architectural features of the Stew to maintain the character of the Frankwell quayside area.
The Stew is a popular and valued building. In 2015, it attracted the support of some 1500 petitioners.
In heritage terms, the Stew tells two stories. The oldest part reflects Shrewsbury’s river-trade and 18th Century architectural history, while the larger 19th Century part reminds us of Frankwell’s more recent industrial past, where storage and warehousing were at a premium.
The Government Planning Inspector for the last Appeal, described the Stew as “a regionally important non-designated heritage asset” and that “the significance (of the designated heritage asset – ie the Conservation Area) would be harmfully damaged by the loss of The Stew.” This must include the loss of parts of the building (especially its prominent roof-line) and any overshadowing of its historical references.

NB In these pages we have sought to be as accurate as possible but we understand there are many more details not recorded here.
Shrewsbury Civic Society December 2017.






3 comments to Planning Application 17/05538/FUL for the Stew Frankwell Quay Shrewsbury 2017

  • Judi V Bucknall

    I wholeheartedly agree with your comments.We must retain this building (in or as near its present form i.e. to stop it falling down) for future generations. Too much has been lost in this town in my life time. Keep up your good work.

  • Jayne Cowper

    If these plans are continually objected to then the Building will become more of an eyesore. Whilst it may be historic there is very little within the area that has followed this route, (former Council Buildings and Theatre). Improvements to the area and this decaying building have greater importance. There are many other recent Developments,Cambrian House near the Station/Castle, which really have a detrimental affect in that area of Shrewsbury but no objections were made there.

  • Mike Carter

    It’s good to have some thoughtful responses.
    I Chair the Civic Society’s Planning Committee that discusses the Stew. We thought that the designs shown so far, are not good enough for Shrewsbury as they undermine the historic authenticity of the building. The Stew is one of the last remnants of Frankwell’s past which should not be lost just because there are some newer buildings around. The nation’s heritage guardian, Historic England, has made some robust guidance (See these on the planning portal.) with which we agree. At April 2018, the Planning Authority has asked the developer to work on a different plan which could leave the Stew unaltered. We are awaiting the result.

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