Plans have been submitted to turn the former Maggie’s café in Uckfield High Street – empty since 2011 – into residential accommodation, amalgamating it with accommodation on two floors above.
Three neighbouring properties have previously been converted from commercial uses at ground floor, including the left hand side matching pair of the building, which is at 218 High Street.
A statement to Wealden Council says before being a café the premises were used by a chartered surveyor and became a tea rooms without planning permission. A retrospective planning application was approved but the business ceased trading a month later, four months after opening.
The Grade II Listed Building remained empty from February 2011 to September 2011 but was then used “on an unauthorised basis” for the storage of clocks until April 2013. It was eventually sold in December 2013.
The statement to planners says that a marketing exercise failed to attract any interest from a commercial occupier. It adds that the lack of interest was similarly reflected in failed marketing of former commercial properties immediately to the north of the application site.
Decisions to allow those properties to be used for residential purposes confirmed that this part of the high street was of “declining attractiveness and interest to retail and commercial occupiers”.
The document argues that bringing back into use the vacant ground floor unit would positively contribute to the active frontages of the street scene, thereby enhancing the character of the conservation area.
It concludes: “The application will not result in any net increase in residential dwellings. Similarly there will be no net increase in the number of bedrooms.
“On this basis, the scheme will have no material impact on the ecological interests of the Ashdown Forest.”