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More shops filled at St Martin’s Quarter, Worcester
6:30pm Friday 22nd February 2013 in News
A BOOKMAKERS and a coffee shop are due to open at the city’s newest shopping and leisure complex.
Members of Worcester City Council’s planning committee approved two separate change of use applications for units at St Martin’s Quarter, Lowesmoor, which is also the site of the city’s supermarket.
The units were both originally earmarked for retail, but councillors have approved change of use applications to restaurants and cafes for a Costa coffee to open and to financial and professional services for a new betting shop.
However, some councillors are concerned that not enough of the new units are being used for their original purpose of retail sparking debate at the planning meeting which was held at the Guildhall yesterday.
Councillor 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 retail to restaurants and cafes because they have marketed it for a year and have failed to find a retail class tenant.”
He said that the original plans had been described as an eclectic mix of retail and restaurant development.
“But we seem to be very far from that vision. The retailer is clearly struggling to find occupiers for these units.
“We could end up having a far higher 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.
“There are still a number of units which are unoccupied which is a reflection of the current climate that 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 positive effect in terms of attracting people to that area.”