February 12, 2015
Former Highbridge shop set to be turned into flats despite objection

Proposals to convert a former shop in Highbridge into flats look set to be approval by Sedgemoor District Council next week despite objections from the Town Council.

Sedgemoor Case Officer Liam Evans has recommended the plans to transform 14 Church Street - previously used as an architect's shop - into flats are approved at a Development Control Committee meeting on 17th February.

The plans cover the change of use and conversion of the ground floor from an office to a flat, plus the demolition of an outbuilding and the erection of a building to form two flats.

Burnham and Highbridge Town Council has raised concerns about the development, saying: "Our members have objected on the grounds that this would be an overdevelopment of the site."

"The access would be poor and not suitable for the amount of car spaces and additional motor vehicle use, and on this objection the Town Council believe the District Council’s planning department has set a precedent when refusing planning permission for a similar development with the same access issues on a site at the side of the Post Office in Church Street," explained a Town Council spokeswoman.

But Sedgemoor's Case Officer Liam Evans says in a report on the application: "The loss of the shop/office to the ground floor is regrettable but is located within an area where other residential properties front onto Church Road at ground floor level. The development is consistent with the pattern of development in the area which contains a mix of use including retail, office, drinking establishments and hot food takeaways."

"The existing shop front is located adjacent to Church Road and therefore within a prominent position on the public highway. However, the proposed changes to the shop front will be in keeping with the character of the building, using appropriate matching fenestration design and brickwork. The works will not be detrimental to the street scene and will be in keeping with other residential development along the A38."

He adds: "The two storey building to the rear will not be seen from public vantage points and will not have any impact on the character of the town. The existing buildings on the site are of no architectural merit and their replacement with the proposed building would mark a visual improvement although its impact would be slight given its background position. The building will take on the appearance of a large coach house and the proposed materials and scale are appropriate for its intended use and location."

"The proposed development will provide five additional off road parking spaces, two each allocated to the two bedroom flats and one for the one bedroom unit. The parking will be mainly formed in an undercroft arrangement below the first floor of the two storey building and will utilise the existing access, which serves a number of garages and other properties. The level of parking is acceptable and in line with the recommendations of the parking strategy."

The case officer has recommended that the plans are approved, concluding: "The proposed change of use of the existing ground floor office to a residential unit will be consistent with the character and appearance of residential development along Church Street and will be of a scale and design which has no detrimental impact on the street scene. The two storey apartment building to the rear will also not affect the character and appearance of the area and will be of a design, density scale which is considered acceptable and in keeping with the pattern of development in the centre of Highbridge."

Because the views of the Town Council are contrary to the officer's recommendation, the application will be debated by Sedgemoor's Development Control Committee and a final decision taken.


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