18 Newbridge Road, Newbridge, Bath
As existing, 18 Newbridge Road forms part of a local cluster of retail/food and drink/office units at the bottom of Newbridge Road running north onto Chelsea Road that make up part of this local centre identified as part of Policy CP12. No. 18 retains an active ground floor use as designated by Class E, and was formerly open as a Lloyds Bank up until 2015. As such, it continues to contribute to the activation of this local retail centre within the conservation area. The applicant has indicated that the building has been occupied on a part time basis by a commercial estate agent until recently; whilst this may be considered to be a less ‘active’ use when compared with other adjacent retail/food and drink venues, it maintains an active commercial frontage and space for local businesses. Where the building already has Use Class E, this retains the possibility of the building being attributed a more active use by future occupiers, where Class E encompasses a range of uses (eg. shops, offices, cafes, restaurants) without requiring planning permission for change of use.
In accordance with Policy CP12, “uses which contribute to maintaining the vitality, viability and diversity of centres within the hierarchy will be encouraged. Active ground floor uses will be maintained and enhanced.” There remains a preference for a retained active use at ground floor where this is characteristic of the Newbridge Road/Chelsea Road centre serving the otherwise predominantly residential character of the wider area. Nonetheless, it is appreciated that a balance should be struck to ensure the sustainable long-term use of the building.
Whilst there is no requirement to “test the market”, it would be useful to clarify whether there has been any ongoing marketing of the existing unit with the case officer. Where marketing may demonstrate a consistent lack of potential tenant interest, this may be considered justification for the proposed change of use.