Proposals to develop Burnham-On-Sea’s former job centre into a new convenience store and eight flats have been approved by Sedgemoor District Council.
The authority has granted final approval to the proposals. It comes after we first reported here that the Town Council’s Planning Applications Committee had recently supported the proposals on the basis that they would bring a redundant building back into use, generate new employment, create new accommodation, and tidy up the street scene.
The building, located at the junction of Burnham’s High Street and Regent Street, will be turned into a new convenience store while upstairs there will be be four 1-bedroom flats plus four 2-bedroom flats.
The property has been vacant since the former job centre closed in March 2008. The building was set to be redeveloped into a community facility with £1million of funding from the Government’s Coastal Community Fund, but the grant bid was rejected in 2018.
During the Town Council’s recent virtual meeting, Darren Addicott, for the applicant, said: “We are proposing to make use of a vacant building, returning it to retail, and as a part of a conversion, we are proposing to add accommodation to make the site viable. It makes a sympathetic use of the building, making good use of the building in a town centre location, bringing it back into use without any detrimental harm.”
However, nearby resident Colin Arnold added: “My main concern is not that they are bringing an empty shop back into use – it’s the parking issue. It will not only add another 12 cars to the road but it will also take away three parking spaces. The job centre has been abandoned for 10 years – and it has deteriorated over that time. We are now looking at 12 new cars plus whatever the convenience store adds to that, and they will all be in Regent Street. It will be pretty much chaos in my opinion.”
Cllr Peter Clayton said he supported the plans in principal, adding: “After 10 years being empty this is a welcome use. The building has become something of an eyesore – it is great to have it used again. I would support the planning application on the basis that would also provide employment and new accommodation, but I do recognise there are some concerns.”
Cllr Nick Tolley agreed, adding: “I too support this application – I have seen the demise of this property over the years. A new convenience store will be needed. I have concerns over the storage of rubbish – we don’t want commercial bins blocking pavements – but I support the whole application. It’s a wonderful step forward for our town.”
Cllr Bill Hancock added: “I am in favour of it completely, particularly if it brings new employment. I think we must support the application and tidy up that end of the town – I just have concerns over the parking – but I think we have got to support it 100%.”
There are set to be further discussions around the location of the delivery loading bay for the new convenience store, which the applicant has said is crucial for the store owner.