Clash over changes to shop design in Amble

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A retrospective bid for changes to a shopfront in the centre of Amble is earmarked for approval despite the town council’s concerns.

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, is now seeking to regularise its frontage ‘for design revisions which have taken place during construction works’.

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This application is recommended for approval at the North Northumberland Local Area Council meeting on Thursday, February 18.

Amble Town Council.Amble Town Council.
Amble Town Council.

The planning officer’s report explains 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 now 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.’

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Amble Town Council has objected on the grounds that the ‘current design does not conform to the conservation area design’, while the county council’s own building conservation officer says that deviations ‘would collectively fail to preserve the character of the conservation area’.

In her conclusion, the planning officer says that the current design ‘would cause less than substantial harm to the significance of the designated heritage asset of the Amble Conservation Area and would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area’.

But she adds: ‘However, on balance, it is considered the benefits of the proposal outweigh the harm.’

By this, she is referring to the ‘public benefit to the local economy; by supporting a local business and providing an additional retail unit on Queen Street, which adds to the vibrancy and vitality of Amble town centre’.

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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 has to submit a separate advertisement consent application.

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