Bike Hire Shop Can’t Be Turned Into Flat

bike hire shopA Hugh Town property that’s been used as a bike hire shop for almost 30 years cannot be turned into a flat.

That was the decision of councillors at last Thursday’s Planning Committee meeting.

The owner of the shop at Lower Strand wanted to convert the ground-floor space into a two-bedroom apartment.

That involved changes to the front, including replacing doors with a bay window.

But Planning Officer Lisa Walton said there were several issues with the proposal.

It would create an ‘open market house’ with no controls on who could occupy it. That didn’t fit with the current Local Plan.

Lisa said it would be possible to put Section 106 agreement on the flat, to restrict the occupancy, but there were other problems.

The loss of retail space would impact on the “viability and vitality” of Hugh Town, she said, and recommended refusal.

Councillors were confused over the status of the business. The property has been empty since the end of last season.

The applicant stated that the current bike hire operator had decided to leave the premises because he felt the lease was too expensive.

They also said it would be unlikely that they could find another tenant, using the example of the former ‘Blues’ restaurant building in Hugh Town, which has been empty for two years.

But Cllr Christine Savill said she wasn’t aware the property was on the market and Cllr Richard McCarthy said he thought the current operator would be going back in soon.

Cllr Fran Grottick emphasised the loss of retail space that would result if the plans went through.

Councillors rejected the proposal unanimously.



7 Responses to Bike Hire Shop Can’t Be Turned Into Flat

  1. Cherie Duxbury March 7, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Well said Soutie AND Fran Grottick. Good to know that St Mary’s Bike HIre will be re-opening for business soon at it’s new premises.

  2. Soutie March 4, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    oh come on!, it is in the middle of a row of shops on Holgates Green – Of course it should stay a shop!
    Great that the bike business lives on and this has not caused a local livelihood to go. Workspaces like this provide a vital asset for anyone in the future wanting to run a business that needs a shop front. Well done Council for refusing this conversion to residential and thereby protecting the opportunity for a new venture to begin in the future. I think the Council should do all it can to prevent commercial property prices being indexed against the residential property prices, to provide good quality work spaces and to keep residential rent affordable. By supporting cottage industry (and business as a whole) the islands have a sustainable future.

  3. fran grottick March 3, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Dear Jonny,
    This is not the place to discuss a planning decision, but I am happy to let you know more of my working background.
    I trained and worked as a health professional before relocating to IOS and then owned and ran the Bourdeaux shop for 16 years with my family.
    I also have experience in the accommodation sector.
    If you live here, I would be happy to meet you, and perhaps discuss some of your
    many concerns.
    Regards Fran Grottick

    • Jonny Exile March 7, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Bordeaux’s has always been a lovely and popular shop and maybe it’s an exception but I think you’ll find, as a general rule, life in retail is pretty tough on St. Mary’s. This manifests itself in either lower than acceptable returns for the retailer and/or lower returns being forced back up the chain to the landlord. The annual profit of an independent shop on St. Mary’s may look attractive compared to the average Island salary but when you take into account the hours and general conditions that most business owners face and, for example, the tens of thousands of pounds tied-up in stock it’s not so good. By preventing change of use the Council is potentially trapping tenants, landlords and owner-occupiers in a cycle of relatively low earnings and acting as a brake on value creation. The opportunity cost obviously being, if allowed to move on, they could in a lot of cases do something that’s better for them and better for the Islands in general.

      In short, the Council can’t dictate how much “retail space” there should or shouldn’t be because ultimately the market will force a correction and the more the Council interferes the more painful it’s going to be when it comes.

      I’m not in any way advocating a planning free-for-all but what I am saying is that attempts to control the local property market by Leijser supported by a generally liberal/left-leaning Council have gone too far.

      It’s sweet of you to offer a meeting but I really haven’t much to add to what I’ve put in writing here.

  4. Mark Prebble March 3, 2015 at 7:19 am

    A number of social issues have been exposed in this sequence of events and I would like to reassure all our customers that St Mary’s Bike Hire will be fully open for hire and repairs by the beginning of April from a new location on the Porthmellon Business Park. Our contact details remain the same.

  5. yetanoth March 2, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Why not turn it back into a garage and then apply for permission to convert it into a holiday let? Simple and the precedent has already been set.

  6. Jonny Exile March 2, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Perfect example of schism in Scillonian society. On the one hand you have a hard working and enterprising local family who’ve lived on St. Mary’s for decades trying to make the best of what they have. On the other you have the usual crowd of neo-socialist Recently Arriveds (and Simms of course) desperate to agree with whatever the Council apparatchik puts in front of them. How an earth did “not allowing open market housing anywhere on the islands” ever become policy? [s5.2 of Part 1 Decision] It seems to me that in less than a generation we’ve gone from a property owning enterprising community to grant dependent supplicants to the Council.

    I’m loving the high-handed whining about lack of retail space. How many of the Councillors who opposed the application have worked outside the Public Sector let alone in retail on St. Mary’s? You would have thought that O’Neill at least would understand!

    Finally, the least the applicants can expect is to have their proposal discussed properly but this lot would rather spend time larking around fixing Gordon’s microphone because it was “peeving” Simms.