Store is set to stay as redevelopment plan is turned down by council
PUBLISHED: 08:04 19 September 2019
Homebase in Saffron Walden has been saved from possible closure after redevelopment plans for the site it occupies were refused.
The planning application involved converting the current commercial unit, in Ashdon Road, into a care home, and was revealed in February.
However, in a recent ruling, Uttlesford District Council said the plans would "result in the unjustifiable loss of a commercial retail use, which could not be necessarily placed anywhere else in Saffron Walden" - and it was therefore turned down.
A spokesman for Homebase said: "Homebase has been overwhelmed by the strength of feeling in the local community about the potential closure of our store.
"We would like to thank all those who took the time to submit their comments to the council or sign our petition. It is very much appreciated. Homebase remain committed to its future in Saffron Walden."
Earlier this year, thousands of residents signed a petition against the redevelopment plan and hundreds sent their letters of objection to the council.
The land in question was bought by Charterhouse Property Group in 2018 for £1.8million. It planned a 68-bedroom care facility and Care UK as the specialist operator. A car park was also planned, comprising of 30 spaces out of which two were disabled-friendly, as well as 10 cycle parking spots, a delivery bay and an ambulance bay.
Adrian Brown, resident of Saffron Walden, reacted to the plans unveiled earlier in this year, saying: "This is the only store of this type we have in the town and is popular with local residents.
"We have already lost a lot of commercial units where property companies are redeveloping for domestic purposes to make more money, such as the Ridgeons site, where lots of commercial units closed and had to relocate into other towns."
Julie Fennell, a resident, who wrote to the council, said: "Not only does Homebase employ 25 local people, they also give to the local charities, including schools and hospitals. There are no such stores like Homebase in Saffron Walden."
It is not known at this stage whether an appeal against the refusal will be lodged with the Planning Inspectorate.