How important is shop’s heritage?

Member of South Northants Council, councillor Caryl Billingham
Member of South Northants Council, councillor Caryl Billingham

Proposals to turn an empty High Street shop in Brackley into a home have been turned down by planners.

60 High Street is a commercial property which has been empty for a number of years and currently has its windows boarded up.

Last week members of South Northants Council’s planning committee accepted their officers’ recommendation to refuse permission to turn the retail, office building and flat into a three-bedroom house.

Applicant Corinne Comfort, who lives in the flat intermittently, argued changes would not be visible from outside the grade II listed property. But officers felt the internal changes, including the addition of an en-suite bathroom, would compromise the building’s historic character.

Planning officers also said the absence of information on partition walls and replacement windows left them unable to assess their historic value. However Caryl Billingham, SNC member for Brackley, remembers the property being used as a home in the 1970s.

Speaking to the Advertiser she said: “Planning officers must be governed by the policies in force at the time of the application and their decision is to ensure they protect the council against possible challenge as much as they can.

“It does seem unfortunate the principle of change of use is somehow lost among the various shortcomings that have been raised in terms of the listed status of the building and its effect on the application.”

A supporting submission from estate agents told SNC that after six months of marketing there had been little interest in the shop or offices due to their location and layout.