Bid to turn long-vacant Ottery high street commercial premises into a home is rejected

A bid to transform a commercial premises on Ottery high street into a home has been rejected after concern was raised over ‘the loss of another shop front’.

Plans for the long-vacant 30 Mill Street – last used as a business in around the year 2000 – were refused by East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) development management committee.

A change of use from commercial to residential was sought for part of the ground-floor of the property. The space was previously a taxi office.

The application had been recommended for approval by EDDC officers before its fate was decided on Tuesday (July 9).

In a report to committee members, a planning officer said: “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 added that, under ‘ordinary circumstances’, the applicant would have had 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.

A photo of Ottery high street known as Mill Street

The plan was for a change of use at 30 Mill Street. Picture: Google Maps.

“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,” said the officer.

However, both of the area’s EDDC representatives and the town council said 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.”

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 shop sits within the designated town centre shopping area and conservation area.

The development management committee voted to refuse the application planning permission.

Members ruled that, in the absence of 12 months’ marketing of the premises, the proposal ‘has the potential to undermine the vitality and viability of the town centre’.

Read more Ottery news here.

About Author