New plan submitted for Aldershot's ArcadeBy Amy Taylor
February 11, 2013
AMENDED proposals have been submitted by Dunedin Property Ltd for The Arcade in Aldershot, after strong public opposition and a refused scheme last year.
A new planning application for a similar scheme to the one rejected last July has been received by Rushmoor Borough Council and consultation will run until February 27 ahead of a decision by the council’s development control committee.
The refused scheme, for a two-storey Wetherspoons pub and large Poundland store, was recommended for approval by officers, but councillors chose to go against their advice. It is the subject of an appeal, due to be considered by the planning inspectorate next month.
The new proposal is still to turn shops in the Victoria Road Arcade into a larger retail area, at the same time changing the use of another part of the building to allow for a pub.
However, the two have been swapped, with the retail unit at the top of the Arcade and a one-storey pub on the ground floor, while units above would be kept as offices for the pub.
The planning application states: “Commentators raised concerns in respect of the closure of the pedestrian through route across the Arcade from Wellington Street. This revised scheme switches the two proposed larger units enabling greater vitality onto Wellington Road through the new siting of the retail unit closer to the ‘main pitch’.”
A statement of support by JD Wetherspoon said the site would bring benefits to Aldershot.
“While residents almost invariably fear new pubs will give rise to significant noise and disturbance, it is our extensive experience this rarely occurs in practice,” says the statement. “We would aim to provide a welcoming and attractive facility to a wide range of people of all age groups.”
Reza Asjadi, a shopkeeper whose Aladdin’s Cave store was one of many required to leave the Arcade, led a campaign against Dunedin’s plan, submitting a 400-page petition to the council containing more than 3,200 signatures.
He said he would challenge the new application as soon as he knew consultation was under way. With regards to the appeal, he said: “I believe the inspectors have a very difficult job. I truly hope they do their job thoroughly. Should they overturn the decision, we would then have to call for a meeting and take all possible legal proceedings.” He added: “The idea of two mega big units within the Arcade was a failed idea right from the start.
“Aldershot is in desperate need of small shops where almost every small unit has been taken over. On the other hand we have these developers who intend to destroy the existing small units for the sake of two, mega big ones.
“It is a bad plan and it would not go down well with the people of Aldershot should they overturn the existing rejection.”
Developers at Dunedin said at the time of the refusal that they were shocked and disappointed at the decision, having expected it to be approved in line with the recommendation.
Development consultant John McSherry said it was even more shocking because the plan would have brought more than 100 new jobs to the town.
Asset manager Jenna Berry said Dunedin had not forced traders out of the Arcade, as many of them had already been struggling to make money and meet their rent.
But Mr Asjadi said he was pleased that the council had responded to public opinion, and hoped it would do so again.
He said: “Should the will of the people of Aldershot be ignored we shall then have no alternative but to use the Localism Act and insist on having the best for the town.”
The revised application is available to view under Rushmoor’s reference number 13/00071/COUPP.