Gosport Borough Council approves application to fill empty retail unit

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A UNIT that has stood empty for two years is to become home to a construction business.

Councillors decided yesterday at a Gosport Borough Council Policy and Organisation Board meeting that 15 Mumby Road would change use from retail to office.

An application was put in by the owner of the building after A Lees Bricklaying Contractors expressed an interest in the site.

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the application. That went against council officers who had recommended the application be refused as the unit was in an area defined in the Gosport Local Plan as the town centre and a principal shopping centre. They said the change of use would reduce the attractiveness of the centre by not encouraging footfall and causing harm to the vitality and viability of the centre.

But during the meeting, councillors said the unit needs to be filled.

Councillor June Cully said: ‘I think the unit has been empty long enough. It is about time we put it back into use.

‘It has been on the active market for two years and had no interest.

‘The site is not a welcome retail venue and there has been no footfall in this area for the last two years.’

Councillor Peter Langdon agreed and said it was a good opportunity to put the unit back into use.

‘We will be bringing a little more activity into the shopping centre,’ he added.

Councillor Langdon forwarded the application and it was seconded by Councillor Richard Dickson.

He said: ‘We have a number of empty units in the high street and it would be good to get this one filled.

‘The officers’ comment about the application reducing the attractiveness of the centre is something that has been included simple because the site is featured in the local plan.’

Graham Jacobs gave a deputation in favour of the application on behalf of A Lees Bricklaying Contractors.

He said: ‘It is good that the application was approved but I do not know why we had to be here. The owner of the premises was keen, as was the business owner so we didn’t see what the problem was. But it is good to have the council’s backing and we can now look forward to moving in.’

The business, which was based in Stokes Road, hopes to move into the new premises today.