Underperforming retail park set to expand
Matthew Smith, local democracy reporter
- Credit: Google
An ‘underperforming’ Stevenage retail park will be allowed to expand after councillors backed plans to introduce new units to the site.
The owners of Roebuck Retail Park said the new plans would “breathe new life” into the site, which has seen its largest store remain empty since Currys PC World left for the nearby Roaring Meg Retail Park.
The plans will see the unit converted into a new self-storage facility for SureStore, as well as the building of three new units to see the terrace of shops extend further.
Currently, Halfords, American Golf and Leaner Life Fitness occupy the park, but the land owners hope the new units and investment will draw in new business.
The application for full planning permission was submitted earlier this year by JLL on behalf of Legal & General Property Partners.
In a planning statement, the applicant said: “The proposed development seeks to regenerate and secure the long term economic future of the site, which is presently experiencing high levels of vacancy and has been an underperforming asset for some time.”
It adds that the approval of more employment space will “result in significant levels of job creation, prosperity and investment” and meet a shortfall of employment land in the town.
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The new units will be built on either side of the current shops on the current car park. The plans will result in a loss of 55 car parking spaces, but council officers said there would still be sufficient parking and recommended the plans for approval.
Under the plans, the new and currently unoccupied units will also be permitted to change use from retail to a more flexible employment use – including the sale of food, the operation of a gym or offices, or general industrial use. A new café or coffee shop on the edge of the terrace is also proposed under the new plans.
The owners have also confirmed that all the existing businesses will continue to operate from the park during and following the construction work.
Councillors on Stevenage Borough Council’s Planning Committee backed the plans at a meeting on December 9.
In a report prepared for officers ahead of last week’s meeting, it said the changes of use may result in a loss of retail space but noted the suggested ‘trade counter type business’ would all generate footfall to the site, and continue to provide a service to the public.