Updated, February 23, 2016
Plans to convert offices at Clearwater House, Bell Farm Lane, Uckfield into a shop won support from the town council’s plans committee last night (February 22).
Chairman, Cllr James Anderson, Trust Independent, Uckfield North, said he was in favour of the plan, particularly as it was not converting offices to homes, which had occurred elsewhere in the town.
“With everything that is going on in the High Street, we should be encouraging more shops into the town,” he said.
Vice-chairman, Cllr Chris Macve, Trust Independent, Uckfield, North, noted the premises were being retained for commercial use.
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A prominent empty building in Uckfield town centre may be coverted into a shop.
An “existing local business specialising in bespoke furniture” hopes to be able to move into the empty Clearwater House in Bell Farm Lane.
The building has stood empty for many months.
First hurdle for the prospective new business is to win planning permission to convert the use of the building.
Change of use
Currently, under planning regulations it is limited to office use.
Wealden District Council is considering a planning application to change the use to retail.
The application relates just to the ground floor of the building.
A statement in support of the planning application said the business which hoped to move in had built success on “personal attention and the ability to display their furniture for inspection”.
“This property allows them to display their furniture in a good retail position which experiences a good footfall.
“The business provides a delivery service but provision has been made within this application for a dedicated collection area that is off the highway,” the document said.
The relatively modern building stands on the site of what once was a Nissen hut for the British Legion club.
Permission was given to redevelop the site in 2002 to include flats and offices.
The application is the fourth planning application in recent months to convert former offices in the town centre to other uses.
The latest to gain approval is 19 Church Street, which now has permission for conversion into a home.
Town council objects to office conversion
It was last used commercially by a financial services firm.
Uckfield Town Council plans committee objected to that conversion on the grounds of
- lack of parking and the loss of “yet another commerical property in the town” and
- concerns over the loss of employment with the forthcoming increase in the town’s population.
In giving approval, Wealden council said the property was outside the main and secondary shopping areas and not within any other “defined area of business”.
It said there was a predominance of housing in the area and the scale and location of the building was unlikely to make a significant contribution to the town’s commercial facilites “that a change of use could reasonably be resisted in this case”.
The district council said the building as an office had no allocated parking.
Permission to convert former offices Oakridge House, New Town, and Sussex House, Grange Road, into homes has been given.