Plans to turn a long-vacant commercial premises on Ottery St Mary’s high street into a home are set to be given the green light despite concerns.
Proposals for 30 Mill Street – last used as a business in 2000 – have been recommended for approval by East Devon District Council (EDDC) officers.
The fate of the application will be decided by the authority’s development management committee next week.
A change of use from commercial to residential has been sought for part of the ground-floor of the premises. The space was previously a taxi office.
Both of the area’s EDDC representatives and the town council say the bid should be turned down – as the property has not been marketed for commercial use.
Ward member Councillor Vicky Johns said: “The loss of another shop front in Ottery town would be detrimental to the town as a whole.”
In a report to committee members recommending the application is approved, an EDDC officer says: “Given the history of the site, it is not considered that the loss of the unit from commercial use would undermine the vitality or viability of the town centre.”
The officer adds that, under ‘ordinary circumstances’, the applicant would have to demonstrate all options to keep the premises for commercial use had been explored.
This would usually be through a ‘robust marketing exercise’ for a minimum of a year.
“Whilst there has been no such exercise carried out in this case, it is considered that this needs to be balanced against the commercial reality of the particular circumstances surrounding the premises,” says the officer.
Ward member Cllr Peter Faithfull said the bid should be refused, adding: “I have just been standing in Redferns estate agents, who are acting for this property.
“While there, a potential buyer was asking about this property.
“The member of staff made it quite clear to the customer that there had been a lot of interest for this property for commercial use.”
The Ottery high street premises sits within the designated town centre shopping area and conservation area.
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