Find out what could be in store for a former fire station in Alnwick
A formal change of use application has now been submitted for the old fire station in Alnwick.
The community transport and training charity North East Equality and Diversity Ltd (NEED) is in the process of buying the building on South Road.
Some of it will be used by NEED and some will accommodate eight small business start-up units. There will also be a meeting room on site.
NEED first took space in the fire station in 2004 and have used it since for a range of purposes including offices, storage and training.
For many years NEED occupied the building with the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service.
This shared use continued until June 2015 when a new fire station opened on the Lionheart Enterprise Park.
The former fire station was subsequently marketed and the applicant is negotiating its purchase.
The purchase is dependent amongst other things on planning permission being granted for the development proposed.
The change of use application replaces a previously application for a certificate of lawful development which was withdrawn on officer advice.
At that time, the planning department stated: “Whilst the use of that part of the site which NEED have occupied since 2006 could be considered lawful, by virtue of having been in that use for more than 10 years, the use of the parts of the site that the fire station vacated in 2015 would require a change of use application to be submitted.”
A document submitted on behalf of NEED states: “People have worked at the application site for many years undertaking a variety of similar tasks including office work, storage, training and the ancillary maintenance of vehicles and equipment, therefore activities similar to the applicant's.
“In the circumstances the re-use of the site and buildings for the purposes proposed is sustainable and acceptable.”
At present, the charity has 27 minibuses which operate a number of contracts, including a home-to-school contract for Northumberland County Council, a dialysis and patient transport for North East Ambulance Service and secure transport for the NHS.
It also operates three dial-a-ride schemes and offers a ‘need a car scheme’ where pool cars are used to take people to medical appointments and social events.