Empty shop units in Cheswick Square could be converted to homes

October 05 2018
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A number of retail units in Cheswick Village could be redeveloped into residential accommodation, the Filtonvoice can reveal.

by Becky Day
A number of retail units in Cheswick Village could be redeveloped into residential accommodation, the Filtonvoice can reveal.
The Filtonvoice has seen correspondence from developer Balfour Beatty that state that block B in the Square could be converted into accommodation due to the low demand from businesses wanting to occupy the units.
However, there has been some interest in the other units, as it was also disclosed in the correspondence that one is now under offer and another has received interest from a hairdressing salon.
As previously reported in the Filtonvoice (Dec 2017), residents have been calling on Balfour Beatty to reduce the rental costs as they worry that high rent and vacant units are driving businesses away from the Square.
Local resident Sejal Hampson has expressed her disappointment that the units in block B could be converted, adding that the high rental price is the reason the retail units remain vacant. Sejal, who has been campaigning for the developer to reduce rental costs, says that the estate, which has over 1,500 homes, is "crying out" for these units to be filled.
She said: “The rent is too high, and as a result, residents feel like they’re losing out for the greater ideals of the developer to make more profit from residential build.
“[The council] should have seen this potentially happening and implemented planning conditions at the start. Completely diabolical and unfair to the community.”
In an email seen by the Filtonvoice, Bryan Taylor, property director at Balfour Beatty, said: "Given the low demand for units without any frontage to the Square, we have decided to convert the units in Block B to residential. We will shortly be looking to appoint a local developer.
"I am also pleased to confirm we have placed Unit 8 U/O, leaving us with just Units 12 and 14 to let. We have interest from a hairdresser in Unit 12 now and I hope we can agree terms shortly, leaving us with just Unit 14 to let."
The Filtonvoice understands that no formal ‘change of use’ application been submitted to South Glos Council by the developer.
A spokesperson from the council said: “We would expect any such proposals to come forward for informal pre-application discussions to agree the suitability of what is being considered prior to submission. No request to engage in such discussions has come forward.
“Any change of use will require planning permission, and any proposals to change the use of the units will be subject to local consultation.
“Local residents will therefore be made aware of any proposed change of use.”
Belfour Beatty and Alder King, the property consultants for leasing out the units, were both contacted to clarify their plans, but no response was provided.