Town Centre Manager loses Membery's planning battle

Town Centre Manager Emma Robinson has lost her planning battle to prevent change of use for the Membery's childrens clothes shop opposite Barnes Green from A1 (retail) to A2 (office or retail).

In a close vote councillors on the planning committee passed the change of use by a margin of one vote. 

You can read Emma's argument against change of use below, and also view the voting record of individual councillors.

 

Good evening.  My name is Emma Robinson and I’m Town Centre Manager for Barnes.

I am here today because I believe that the application for a change of use from A1 to A2 at 1 Church Road, Barnes must be refused.   There are a number of reasons for my position.

Firstly, and most importantly, we already have an over-concentration of A2 sites in Barnes and a lower than average number of A1 retail sites.  

The officer’s report states that an A2 use 'would complement the existing retail offer in Barnes adding to the vitality and viability of the centre with additional alternative services for day to day needs'.  I am at a loss as to how he can say thisYou can see from our map that the majority of businesses in the immediate vicinity of this site are classed as A2 and all of them are currently being used as estate agents.

The Council's own Town Centre Heathcheck data for Barnes published just a few months ago compares Barnes to other local centres in the borough and finds that 'the clear discernible difference is that Barnes has a significantly higher proportion of outlets in A2 use'.  It also finds that the proportion of shops is slightly lower than the average.

The GOAD report of 2011 also found that Barnes has 2.5 times the national average of estate agents occupying A2 sites

It is also important to note that we have a number of A2 sites in Barnes that are currently empty.  A business looking for an A2 site could take one of these without us having to lose an A1 site.

Secondly, the Council’s policies seek to provide a mix of uses that meet local needs, yet change of use to A2 in an area that is dominated by A2s does not provide a good mix of businesses.

Policy DMTC2 says that the Council will 'protect and improve the provision of day-to-day goods and services in the local and neighbourhood centres of the borough that are appropriate for a mix of uses'.  Surely supporting this change of use would conflict with this policy?  Having a mix of different shops is critical to the success of Barnes as it is in other areas.  Yet the over-supply of A2 sites does not attract visitors but instead results in low footfall.

 

Policy CP8 of the Council’s Core Strategy designates Barnes as a local centre 'with shops and services for day to day needs and some small offices'.  Change of use at this site would contribute to what is already a disproportionate number of small offices and reduce our limited number of shops.

 

The officer's report states that policy DMTC4 does not apply as the unit is within 400 metres of a designated frontage but I would argue that it does apply as this policy goes on to say that changes of use away from retail will not be permitted unless the retail use is inappropriate in terms of access orneighbourliness (which it isn’t) and that the proposed use would provide a community service or functionwhich as I have argued is in significant over-supply.

 

This policy also states that 'Before accepting the loss of any … shop unit, the Council will require satisfactory evidence of full and proper marketing normally for at least two years'.  This site has been occupied by the same successful retail business for 30 years now and will be occupied until March 2014

 

Finally, Barnes now has a nationally recognised Town Team that is working to improve the trading environment.  We must have A1 retail sites to attract businesses and to make Barnes a viable destination.  A decision to allow change of use at key retail sites undermines everything we are trying to achieve. Research we have conducted recently with residents confirms that they do not want estate agents in retail sites in Barnes.  

Providing another A2 site in Barnes will not bring any value to Barnes but instead will detract from our limited local retail provision and will frustrate our attempts to provide retail sites for businesses looking to come to Barnes.

For these reasons I hope that you will refuse this application.   Thank you.

 

Voting record

 

 

Councillor

Party

For COU

Against COU

Councillor David Linnette

Con

X

 

Councillor Clare Head

Con

 

X

Councillor Piers Allen

Lib-Dem

X

 

Councillor Katharine Harborne

Con

 

X

Councillor Dr Tania Mathias

Con

 

X

Councillor Brian Miller

Lib-Dem

X

 

Councillor Suzette Nicholson

Lib-Dem

 

X

Councillor Stephen Speak

Con

X

 

Councillor Martin Elengorn

Lib-Dem

X

 
   

5

4

 

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