BUSINESS | Commercial Spaces Development/Renovation

6.5 DEVELOPMENT AND RENOVATION OF COMMERCIAL SPACES

6.5.1    The SWNP would like to encourage the provision of modern office space which would be attractive to start-ups wishing to benefit from the proximity to London and Cambridge. It recognises that industrial premises which require large volumes of space are unlikely to be attracted to Saffron Walden because of the distance from the M11 and the high value of land, although it is hoped that specialised manufacturing may be encouraged to stay and grow.

6.5.2    Many of the offices in the town centre are above shops in buildings with small footprints. Most of the buildings are old and many are listed, as is demonstrated in the map below (green dot is Grade II, yellow is Grade II* and red is Grade I). The challenges of converting these to modern office spaces are considerable, and ten have been converted to residential spaces between 2016 and 2019, with further conversions in the pipeline. Any opportunity to renovate additional spaces for commercial use would be of benefit to the town and would be welcomed.

OS PSMA LICENSE NUMBER: 0100057521

6.5.3    The eLP identifies six sites for commercial development:

Site

Use Class in eLP

Permission Granted as of publication of SWNP

Reg 19 Policy SAF 11

Land North of Ashdon Road

4.25 Hectares

 

Business, General Industrial and storage and distribution uses (use classes B1, B2 and/or B8) and other ancillary employment creating uses

Yes: UTT/13/2423/OP

Permission granted for B1, B2 and/or B8, A3, A4 and C1

Reg 19 Policy SAF 12

Land South of Ashdon Road

1 Hectare

B1

No

Reg 19 Policy SAF 13

Land at Thaxted Road

1 Hectare

Mixed uses, including retail, retail warehousing and leisure uses

YES:

UTT/13/0268/FUL

Reg 19 Policy SAF 14

(1)     The Fire Station/Saffron Walden Laundry (0.2 HA)

(2)     Emson Close/Rose and Crown Walk and car parks to the rear of Boots and Saffron Building Society (0.5HA)

(3)     56 High Street (0.09 HA)

Town Centre Uses

No

6.5.4    The SWNP notes the inconsistency between permission granted for site SAF11 and the uses listed in the eLP. The more the use classes are limited, the harder it would be for the developer to make use of the site. Therefore, the SWNP supports the uses as the permissions granted, and not the narrower list of classes in the eLP.

6.5.5    56 High Street, referenced in eLP Policy SAF14, currently has the Scout Hall on the site. Development of this site will cause the loss of the Scout Hall and this will then need to be replaced elsewhere.

6.5.6    Saffron Walden needs all of these sites to be safeguarded for commercial use, in order to support employment and local services for the growing population of the town.

6.5.7    Any new planning applications for sites not in these allocated sites will necessarily refer to Paragraphs 86-87 of the NPPF which sets out sequential tests for locations.

6.5.8    Saffron Walden has high land values because of the attractiveness of the area for residential use. The town is relatively inaccessible to major national artery roads, with most locations necessitating routes through the town centre. For these reasons, Saffron Walden will not attract businesses with heavy industrial requirements.

6.5.9    For inward light industry and office space investment, Saffron Walden must compete with other locations in the region which offer modern and attractive space.

6.5.10  The eLP site allocation SAF14 covers three re-development sites:

  • 56 High Street (outline on left), and the fire station / Saffron Walden laundry (outline on right)

Map reproduced from eLP

  • Emson Close and Rose and Crown Walk

Map reproduced from eLP

  • 6.5.11  SAF14 at 56 High Street could be considered in conjunction with the development of George Street, as follows:

OS PSMA LICENSE NUMBER: 0100057521

This photo shows the back of the buildings 16-18 George Street and illustrate the opportunity for regeneration.

6.5.12  SAF 14 / 56 High Street, with or without the additional areas indicated above, sits on the primary shop frontage zone of the town centre. The eLP says that the District Council will support development and redevelopment opportunities for town centre uses. There is an opportunity to develop these areas into larger and more modern footprint retail units and modern office space on the first floor. This site would ideally be developed as a complete parcel because the alternative of breaking it up into small parcels could prevent the creation of larger footprint retail units and office space. There is a Scout Hall to the rear of 56 High Street, as an addition to eLP Policy SAF14, and to ensure that community use is not lost to new development, proposals to develop the site at 56 High Street must not be allowed until an equivalent or better scout hall is constructed and opened elsewhere.

POLICY SW15 DEVELOPMENT OF 56 HIGH ST

  1. Proposals to develop the site at 56 High Street will not be allowed until an equivalent or better replacement scout hall is constructed and opened elsewhere.
  2. The site must not be broken up into small parcels which may prevent the land being commercially useful for modern town centre uses.

This policy supports the Neighbourhood Plan Objectives 1,4,5

WE WELCOME YOUR FEEDBACK ON THIS POLICY SW15

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POLICY SW16 REGENERATION OF GEORGE ST

Proposals to regenerate George Street would be supported, which may include:

  • Redeveloping numbers 2-18 to include town centre A1 uses on the ground floor and accommodation on the first floor.
  • Closing the road to traffic to make the street more attractive to pedestrians, visitors and shoppers.
  • Development of the site as part of a wider development to include 56 High Street, as mapped in 6.5.11 and eLP Policy SAF14.
  • Retention and sensitive redevelopment of the building that was formerly The George pub (now the Nemonthron).

 

This policy supports the Neighbourhood Plan Objectives 1,4,5

WE WELCOME YOUR FEEDBACK ON THIS POLICY SW16

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POLICY SW17 DEVELOPMENT OF NEW AND EXISTING COMMERCIAL SPACES

  1. Proposals for the replacement or refurbishment of existing industrial units which will result in greater viability, adaptability and energy efficiency will be supported.
  2. Proposals for farm diversification involving small-scale business and commercial development which will provide additional employment will be supported.
  3. Proposals to convert residential accommodation to additional visitor accommodation will be supported, provided that adequate parking is made available.

 

This policy supports the Neighbourhood Plan Objectives 1,2,3,4,5

 

WE WELCOME YOUR FEEDBACK ON THIS POLICY SW17

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6.5.13  Surveys of the town noted that while George Street has a combination of mostly attractive older buildings there is one strip of unattractive and dated buildings (numbers 2-10) (below):

Photo taken by SWNP

Except on this particular strip, the pavements on the road are particularly narrow and the road is heavily used by HGVs. Despite being in the town centre, businesses on the street do not always receive the foot traffic they need to remain viable. Proposals for the regeneration of George Street would be supported.

Neighbourhood Plan Objectives

Objective 1

Saffron Walden will be an economically active and self-sustaining town, offering equal opportunities to all.

Objective 2

Saffron Walden’s residents will be able to live as healthily as possible.

Objective 3

Saffron Walden will be an environmentally sustainable town.

Objective 4

Saffron Walden’s heritage assets, high quality landscape and conservation areas will be protected or enhanced.

Objective 5

Saffron Walden will retain its market-town feel and community spirit.

POLICIES

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