Amble store told its new shopfront must go after Northumberland councillors disagree with planning officers

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A new shopfront in Amble town centre cannot stay as it is after a retrospective bid for changes was thrown out by councillors.

Planning permission was granted in October 2016 for a change of use from residential to retail at 69 Queen Street.

The business, Sea Shore Thrift Store, which has recently started trading, was seeking to regularise its frontage due to ‘design revisions which have taken place during construction works’.

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This application had been recommended for approval at the North Northumberland Local Area Council meeting on Thursday, February 18, with planning officers concluding that the benefits of having another retail business in the high street outweigh the harm.

A shot down Queen Street before the work was carried out on the shopfront.A shot down Queen Street before the work was carried out on the shopfront.
A shot down Queen Street before the work was carried out on the shopfront.

This was despite Amble Town Council objecting and the county council’s own building conservation officer saying that deviations ‘would collectively fail to preserve the character of the conservation area’.

But committee members came down on the side of the town council, believing that flouting the conservation area rules was not acceptable.

Cllr Terry Clark, the ward member for Amble, had submitted a statement to the meeting outlining his objections, saying it ‘deviates from approved shopfront design and fails to preserve the character of the street’.

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And it was the neighbouring representative, Cllr Jeff Watson, of Amble West with Warkworth, who moved refusal, saying: “When you are talking about the public benefit, it’s going to be there because the shop is there already. If we refuse this, they are going to have to change the front, they are not going to close down, I wouldn’t have thought.

Pictures shared with councillors deciding on the applicationPictures shared with councillors deciding on the application
Pictures shared with councillors deciding on the application

“They will just have to adhere to what we do in the conservation area. If you don’t make people adhere to the rules of the conservation area, what’s to stop everyone else doing the same?

“I’m sorry to say this too, and I’m sure the officers will say otherwise, but is not the main reason we are saying this is okay is because it’s already there? Maybe I’m wrong, but I have that fear.”

Cllr Gordon Castle added: “If it was an Alnwick shop, as local member, I would hope members would take my view, so when the two local members go against it, I’m happy to take their views.”

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The planning officer’s report explained that the approved shop-front was traditional and of a similar design to others on Queen Street and in the conservation area, with ‘a large window, a stone stall-riser and a plywood surround, including pilasters and console brackets’. The surround was to be painted in a traditional pastel colour.

The proposal that had been seeking approval features an increase to the size of the window and introduces mullions.

‘The window and door frame material has been amended from uPVC to powder-coated aluminium in an anthracite grey colour,’ the report states. ‘The timber surround and stone stall-riser have been omitted from the scheme and a plywood fascia is shown over the window/door frame.’

The report also notes that a fascia sign has recently been erected on the building and this is not shown in the proposed plans, which were submitted before the shop was brought into use, and therefore the applicant also needs to submit a separate advertisement consent application.