Future of vacant Victorian building in Blyth town centre uncertain after planning application decision
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Northumberland County Council approved a planning application for the restoration of the building on the corner of Bridge Street and Union Street, the upper floors of which have been vacant for years.
The plans would see the building, currently home to cocktail bar Deuces and dessert shop Movie Foods, refurbished externally and a rear extension built to provide an entrance for the building’s upper floors, which the applicant wants to convert into 12 one bedroom flats.
The approved plans also involve a single storey extension to the building that would create a new retail unit on the corner of Bondicar Terrace and Parsons Street.
However, approval of the planning application did not come with consent to change the use of the building.
A separate application submitted in 2021, at the same time as the plans, seeking to change the designated use of the upper floors from commercial to residential was rejected, which could hold back the project.
The change of use application was refused as the applicant did not sign up to pay a sum, totalling £7,380, towards the council’s coastal wildlife protection scheme, something required of all residential developments within 10km of the coast.
The planning officer’s report said: “Whilst the applicant has advised their acceptance of the scheme and a willingness to secure the contributions via a legal agreement, this has not been progressed by the applicant with the local authority’s legal team.
“The lack of coastal mitigation contributions therefore forms a reason for refusal upon this application.”
The proposal was otherwise described by council planners as a “positive change for the area” that would have protected the building from “further deterioration.”
The applicant’s design statement said the scheme “preserves the character and continuity of the locality” and adds “much needed” flats to “help with the housing crisis.”
The property, built in 1895, was once a carpet and flooring showroom but has been vacant since 2017, and most of the upper floors’ windows are boarded up.
A similar planning application concerning the building was approved in 2013, but this consent expired without any work taking place.