Former Beales site could be split into flats and shops
PUBLISHED: 11:23 22 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:24 22 March 2017
A planning application to turn a Saffron Walden Market Square building into a mix of flats and shops has been submitted to Uttlesford District Council.
The plan, at the former site of Beales, includes turning the ground and first floor into three separate retail units as well as building four flats on the second floor.
Some internal modifications to support the changes have also been proposed in the plan, with a decision expected on March 30.
Beales closed its doors to customers in December last year and the Market Place building has since been vacant.
Speculation in the town has been rife since the closure regarding interest in the imposing three-floor building, but owners the Central England Co-operative have so far remained tight-lipped about prospective tenants.
Wendy Howell, Saffron Walden Town Team member and independent business owner, said: “I think it could have been put to better use but I can understand the owners wanting to split the building, because it is a large site.
“My own personal feeling was that a boutique hotel would have been great for the town, but three units does make sense to me.
“I suppose having businesses in the building is better than having it empty, and if it’s filled then that is better.”
The only alteration to the outside of the building in the plan is one of the entrances but it will match the existing facade, according to Staniforth Architects, who prepared the design proposal.
The design and access statement, which is available on Uttlesford District Council’s website, reads: “The demand for a large single retail unit over three floors has fallen away under current market considerations.
“The sub-division of the buildings will improve the economic viability and sustainability of the building.
“The exterior fabric of the principle building will remain largely untouched. This ensures the building retains its historic identity and its social and communal significance on the Market Place.”
Public access to each retail unit will be from Market Place with separate private access to each unit located around the building, with access to the second floor flats from a staircase at the back of the building.
Saffron Walden Town Council has not objected the proposal.