Wealden councillors are being recommended to approve changes to The Seed House in Bell Lane, Uckfield, which accommodates Sussex Beds.
Planning permission is sought for ground and first floor extensions to provide one two-storey retail unit, a single storey retail unit, a single storey veterinary surgery, and three first floor town centre apartments.
Councillors are told in a report due to go to planning committee north on Thursday, August 23, that the scheme would not have an adverse effect on town centre parking, would not lead to increased flood risk, and can provide safe accommodation for residents of the apartments.
It says the design is considered fit for purpose and the proposed arrangement of commercial space will allow more flexibility in its use, aiding the viability of the town centre.
But the application has been referred to the planning committee because local member, Cllr Claire Dowling, declined to allow the exercise of officer powers to issue a decision.
She says, according to the report, that this is one of the most heavily congested areas in Uckfield with vehicles, parked cars, and buses operating in a confined and restricted area exiting into the industrial estate and onto the Tesco roundabout which is always queuing back.
She adds: “I understand there are three parking bays for the three residential properties but overall there is a loss of eight spaces.
“Those spaces are for employees of the retail units. If removed, where are they, plus the additional staff for the veterinary practice, vets, receptionists, veterinary nurses etc going to park.
“The neighbouring car parks are three hours only and meant for shoppers not employees.”
Cllr Dowling says the veterinary practice is her main concern because of employees and visitors to the surgery. “If the practice is half as busy as the other two practices in the town during surgery hours there will be many cars looking to park.
“The vast majority will be bringing their sick animals by car.”
The town council objects to the change of use of the first floor and part ground floor from shops to residential, saying it wouldn’t want to lose valuable retail space in this central location.
Town councillors also “strongly object to residential use as the area is highly liable to flooding”.
Wealden responds saying the Environment Agency doesn’t object to the proposed development and measures set out in a flood risk assessment will accord with flood risk guidance.
The district council also says the extension increases the amount of commercial floor area from 957sqm to 958sqm.
It says the greater flexibility of the proposed arrangement “will ensure longevity of the site which, although not primary or secondary frontage, is an important part of the town centre”.
Members of the planning committee north is due to make a decision on the planning application at the meeting on Thursday.