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Gloucestershire Business News

One becomes two: retail bid to split disused garage

A car repair business that saw 65 years of trade in a Cotswold town will be gutted to make way for two new shops, if planners back the scheme.

Stroud District Council has been asked by Dursley-based commercial and residential landlords, B Walker and Co, for a change of use for the former Dursley Garage, which sits on the Kingshill Road entrance to the town next door to the Texaco filling station.

The premises were run as an auto servicing, repairs and MoT shop since the 1960s by Nailsworth businessman, Howard Steele, who retired in July this year, with previous bids for housing on the site and an adjoining showroom area having been turned down.

If approved, the workshop will see a change from Class B2 to two Class E retail units – and Stroud and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce has already thrown its weight behind the bid.

Chair Tony Davey told "I believe it is a welcome sign that this building, rather than being left empty, has plans for investment and to be put into good employment use as new, well-sized retail units."

He added: "All too often, across the Stroud District, we see premises being left empty and forgotten when their prior use is no longer practical. Business spaces mixed with residential are an essential balance to maintain, as local residents need local services too. This plan seems to fit that need and will likely be a welcome addition to Kingshill Road."

Given the direction of travel we see across the district where retail is under pressure to become domestic, this is something we warmly welcome - it's good for regeneration and creating jobs. And it signals a positive trend in terms of investment. We see it as a winner for Dursley."

Gross floorspace in the project will come down from 225 sq m to 190 sq m, while MSP Town Planning & Architecture told planners it anticipates that six new jobs will be created at the currently empty site.

In a Design and Access statement, planners were told: "Having given some consideration to the future of the site, the applicant would like to retain the existing structure and put it into a new use that will benefit the town, providing employment and additional retail space.

"The applicant has considerable local knowledge of the commercial property market, having operated locally since the beginning of the 1960's. They are aware of an expressed demand for further quality retail units within the town."

They added that the building iwould benefit from investment, with the finished work contributing "to improving the appearance of this entrance into Dursley".

The bid complements planning Policy as set out in the Stroud District Local Plan 2015, which is currently under review, they said: "This plan focuses a significant level of future development in and around the Dursley area which has been assessed as having the highest level of sustainability along with Stroud and Stonehouse (Core Policy CP3).

They added: "There is no demand for office accommodation within the town, but interest has been expressed for retail space and we feel the site is well related enough to the centre to provide this. It is also well located in terms of passing trade."

● Observations are invited by December 15th, though SDC conservation officers have already given their backing to the bid, saying that it will not impact the heritage of the area.

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