Plan To Convert Shop To Flat Could Go To Appeal

bike hire shopA planning application to convert a former bike hire shop into living accommodation could go to appeal after being rejected for a second time by Scilly’s planners.

In February, councillors voted unanimously to refuse approval for the scheme, which would have seen the ground floor space at ‘Buccabu’ on Lower Strand turned into a two-bedroom apartment.

The property has been empty since autumn last year.

They rejected it because it would create an ‘open market’ home with no controls on who would occupy it and result in a loss of retail space in the town.

Planners also felt the conversion would affect the privacy of two new social housing units being built behind, at Well Cross.

But a reapplication addressing some of the concerns raised by planners has again been unsuccessful.

Owner Syd Lewis was willing to accept a ‘section 106’ restriction on the property, meaning it could only be used for local needs housing.

And his friend and application agent Terry Hiron has pointed out that the Ash Futures report, commissioned by the Council, has recommended creating up to 120 new homes in Scilly.

He believes using ‘brownfield’ sites like this will avoid overdevelopment of green spaces elsewhere on the islands.

But planners have rejected that argument because the recommendations aren’t Council policy yet.

Terry says the rear windows referred to by the planners have been there since the shop was built in 1750. To say they’re now overlooking the new Well Cross development, which is just reaching completion, seems to be “a fatuous excuse,” he says.

And Terry says the Council is not helping Scilly’s shop owners by building more workshop spaces.

Three have been created at the Porthcressa redevelopment and Terry says up to ten similar spaces could be included in the soon-to-be opened Porthmellon Innovation Centre.

He says there’s little interest in renting commercial space in Scilly and the income on Syd’s shop, at £12,000 a year, is too low for the owner to live on.

He says the ‘cake’ for retail is only so large and “the more we have, the smaller the slice and the less viable any shop will be.”

“The Council seems to be destroying the existing shops we have,” he says.

Terry says he can’t understand why the Council has again rejected the application but believes there’s “a good case” for an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.