The bets are on - green light for bookies and coffee shop at Asda site in Worcester (From Worcester News)
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Asda site in St Martin's Quarter gets approval for Costa coffee shop and a bookmakers
A BOOKMAKERS and a coffee shop have been given the go ahead at a redeveloped shopping and leisure complex.
Worcester City Council’s planning committee has approved two separate ‘change of use’ applications for units at St Martin’s Quarter, Lowersmoor, site of the city’s Asda supermarket.
The units were both originally earmarked for retail (class A1) but planners approved change of use to ‘restaurants and cafes’ (A3) for a Costa coffee and ‘financial and professional services’ (A2) for a betting shop.
The coffee shop is already open so the application was 'retrospective' which is when permission is sought for something which has already been put into effect.
However, some councillors are concerned that not enough of the units are being used for their original purpose of ‘retail’, sparking debate at the meeting at Worcester Guildhall today.
Coun Paul Denham said: “I have concerns about the future of this whole development. We’re told in this report that the applicant is applying for change of use from A1 to A3 because they have marketed it for a year and have failed to find an A1 class tenant.”
He said the phrase ‘an eclectic mix of retail and restaurant development’ was used to describe the original plan. He said: “We seem to be very far from that vision. The retailer is clearly struggling to find occupiers for these units.”
Coun Denham said: “We could end up having a far high proportion of restaurants, coffee shops and betting shops and goodness knows what else than we originally imagined.”
But Alan Coleman, development services manager, said the planning committee had the power to control future applications for change of use to maintain the right balance and monitor the situation. He said: “There are still a number of units which are unoccupied which is a reflection of the current climate we’re in.”
Coun Robert Rowden said: “What we’re talking about is an application to put a coffee shop in an area that seems to be very suitable for a coffee shop, particularly as there’s an area for circulation of the general public in front of it. It’s a place where they’re coming and going and may well like to stop for a cup of coffee and watch the world go by. It just seems right. Where there are empty places, get them filled up. The more they’re filled up, the more vibrant that area becomes and the more successful it will be.”
Mr Coleman said: “Bookmakers, whether you agree or disagree with them, do have a very high footfall rate. In terms of vitality and viability, they can have a very positive effect in terms of attracting people to that area