Friday, 15 February 2019

First floor of old antiques shop to be turned into flat

PART of a former antiques shop in Wargrave is to become a home.

Gavin Frost has been granted planning permission to turn the first floor of the former Wargrave Antiques premises in High Street into a flat.

Wokingham Borough Council had previously refused permission for the whole property to be converted into four flats under the previous owners.

Wargrave Antiques closed in 2016 when owner John Connell retired due to ill-health.

Mr Frost plans to remove the internal access to the first floor from the downstairs shop area and create an external staircase to the flat, as it used to have.

He says the ground floor can then be let as a separate retail space.

In his planning statement, Mr Frost said: “There are plain benefits by these changes — the shop becomes a self-contained and secure lock-up unit all on one floor incorporating the necessary toilet facilities and a kitchen area but with a reduced floor space which will make it more attractive to prospective occupants owing to the lower business rates and rents which would result from the omission of the first floor. It is anticipated that this will result in the rejuvenation of commercial interest in the high street and may appeal to smaller businesses.”

The flat will have two bedrooms, a bathroom, ktichen, dining room and living room.

Mr Frost said: “In view of the very limited availability of small, affordable dwellings in the village, the provision of a self-contained two-bedroom flat in the centre of Wargrave will help to alleviate the situation and make a valuable contribution to the housing stock.”

The application was supported by Wargrave Parish Council and was recommended for approval by borough council planning officers before councillors gave consent.

Last year, the property was offered for sale by auction with a guide price of £275,000 but was sold in advance. Romans, which handled the sale, said it went for a lot more than the asking price.

After Mr Connell retired, his family wanted to convert the whole property into flats.

They said there was no interest in the shop as a business premises, despite them lowering the asking price.

The borough council refused to grant permission on the grounds of loss of retail space and the “excessive” density and footprint of the development in the Wargrave conservation area.

Meanwhile, a pub in the village has applied for permission for outdoor glass balustrades and a riverside picket fence as part of refurbishment work.

The George and Dragon in High Street also wants to reorder parts of the interior, including moving the glass-washing area and creating a cut-through from the kitchen to the outside seating area for staff.

The pub says the changes will help attract new customers and make the pub a “vibrant destination”.

It says: “The proposed external and internal works will not compromise the aesthetic of the property and will maintain the operation and trade through the provision of a high-quality scheme which is sensitive to its surrounding context.”

The parish council has objected, saying: “The introduction of a picket fence alongside the river would have a detrimental impact upon the riverine aspect.”

Councillor Andrew Luckwell said: “I don’t think that would look right on the river front. It would look odd.”

Councillor Michael Etwell added: “Picket fencing would be insufficient to withstand high-speed riverwater in flood.”

Councillors also said the plans didn’t make it clear how close the fencing would be to the river and it could affect boat users wanting to moor when visiting the pub.

The pub has also applied for new signs. It wants to replace the existing five signs with new ones with fresh branding and insignia.

These include three on the side of the pub, a large pole-mounted sign in the car park and a written one the side of decking facing the river.

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