6-7 Moorland Road, Oldfield Park, Bath
6-7 Moorland Road are a pair of terraced buildings on the junction of Herbert Road, formerly in commercial use as a bank up until at least 2021. The buildings are indicated to be Use Class A2, which has since been superseded by new interchangeable Use Class E. The buildings are located within the World Heritage Site and the indicative townscape setting of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area. They form an integral aspect of the local retail centre along Moorland Road which serves the surrounding residential Oldfield Park area, and are described by the applicant as being “located within the heart of this busy shopping street”.
In accordance with Local Plan 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.” We therefore strongly encouraged the continued, active retail/commercial use of the buildings where this would contribute to the existing vitality, viability and diversity of a popular local high street.
Use Class E allows for the existing commercial unit to change between multiple uses “which it is appropriate to provide in a commercial, business or service locality”, without necessarily requiring planning permission. Conversion to residential use would therefore preclude the building’s active contribution to the commercial qualities and character of the streetscape in the future.
Development should seek to maintain a desirable balance with securing the sustainable long-term use of a building, where it can be sufficiently evidenced that the continued commercial use of a building would not be possible. In the interest of sustaining the vitality and vibrancy of the high street, proposals for change to a residential use should be appropriately justified with appropriate details of the cited ongoing marketing of the commercial space and the resulting viability of its continued retail and/or commercial use. As submitted, the application does not provide further detail regarding the length of the building’s vacancy (presumed to be from around 2022 when the pre-application was submitted) or any further reasons as to why the building could not be retained in a similar retail or commercial use, potentially whilst incorporating some element of residential use on the upper floors or in the new rear extension.