BUSINESS leaders say a request for permission to demolish part of a Sherborne town centre shop should be thrown out, despite the fact the work has already been carried out.
The executive committee of Sherborne Chamber of Commerce feels it would set a “dangerous precedent” if the application for 62, Cheap Street, is approved.
Work has been ongoing for several months at the former opticians to transform it into a coffee shop.
Some elements of planning permission have already been approved, and chartered surveyor Gerrard Matthews has denied that any work has been carried out without the required consent.
However, a report that will be considered by West Dorset District Council’s planning committee next Thursday october12 says that a new application has been submitted to cover work that has already been done.
The report states: “Alterations to the property have been granted previously (remove internal walls and provide new pitched roof over existing flat roof and yard) and (replacement of existing shopfront). Following these permissions, significant demolition works have taken place and this application seeks retrospective permission for these operations as it is considered that the works that have been carried out go beyond what has been permitted in these two prior permissions.”
Sherborne Chamber believes developers should not be allowed to do whatever they like and seek permission later.
In a letter to be sent to the district council, the chamber said: “The chamber has a vested interest in protecting the appearance and tradition of our main shopping street. Its traditional nature is what makes it unique and appealing to shoppers.
“We were extremely concerned to learn that number 62 had effectively been completely demolished behind the hoardings and only now is the applicant applying for planning permission for this.
“If this application is proved, we feel it would set a dangerous precedent, effectively saying to developers that they can do what they like to our precious town centre buildings without permission, and just apply for permission after the work has been complete.”
The new application, described as part retrospective, requests permission to remove roof and dormers, replace rotten roof pitch, ridge beam and rotten elements & reroof using original roof materials; demolition of rear barn gable ends and rear wall and rebuild; demolish, rebuild and re-render front elevation above fascia.
The town council has already objected.
Mr Matthews told the chamber: “We have been in regular contact (site meetings, phone conversations and emails) with numerous conservation, planning and enforcement officers from WDDC regarding all the works my clients are carrying out at the property. This includes future proposals to the use and rear areas.”
The planning committee is being recommended to approve the plans by its planning officers, subject to a number of conditions.