Even in these difficult times when town and district centres are seeing their trade contracting and an increased number of shop premises stand empty securing planning permission to bring an empty property back into commercial use is not always straight forward.
This was the challenge facing a client who had taken a lease on a vacant ground floor premises on Yarm High Street and converted it to an ice cream parlour, under the ‘Archers’ franchise, producing and selling delicious artisan ice cream. Our client had been unaware that planning permission would be required to use a former gents’ tailors shop as an ice cream parlour and had opened for business having spent a considerable sum of money in fitting out the ground floor premises and installing ice cream manufacturing equipment. He was shocked and concerned when informed by a planning officer that planning permission was required but was unlikely to be granted due to local planning policies seeking to retain shop premises and discouraging conversion to other uses, including an ice cream parlour.
Prism Planning were engaged to try and rescue the situation. It was noted that the premises had been vacant for a considerable period of times; that the ice cream parlour was operating as an ancillary use to the main retail business of Yarm High Street; that within a matter of months of opening the ice cream parlour had built up a loyal customer following; and that there was no other ice cream parlour with the High Street. Prism Planning suggested to the client that he should start a petition, asking customers for their support in calling on the Council to grant planning permission. The planning application was subsequently accompanied by a 910 name petition supporting the application. Support was also sought from Yarm Chamber of Trade, who subsequently wrote to the Council advising of their backing for the ice cream parlour.
Following submission of the planning application and following further discussions with the planners, Prism Planning were able to convince the Council that there were good grounds for granting planning permission notwithstanding the prevailing local planning policies that frowned upon the change of use of the former shop to an ice cream parlour. Our client is understandably delighted that planning permission has now been granted and that he can continue developing his business, which is showing every sign of going from strength to strength.