The former McColl’s / Harpers store site on the Starbeck High Street has been vacant for a number of years, and in 2018 was in a serious fire.
Philip Broadbank, Borough and County Councillor for Starbeck:
As you know the site owners have been involved in “pre-application” discussions to clarify with Borough Council planning officers before their application is submitted for consideration for a decision to be made. The application involves demolition of the existing building and replacing with a new one that would have retail use on the ground floor with a mix of one and two bedroomed flats for sale above.
Normal face to face talks have not been as easy as they would have been without the pandemic but they have taken place between the site owner (Bates and Hemborough), their Consultants and planning officers. Recent discussions have focused on concerns from the Conservation Officer who has asked whether the existing building can be retained and refurbished. Although the site is next to the Grade 2 listed St Andrews Church it is not in the Starbeck Conservation area itself.
As I have already said I would like to see the semi-derelict building that exists there cleared and a planning application submitted. I have been involved in discussions with the planning officers, site owners, Building Control, Enforcement Officers, Planning legal officers and the local Police. The time taken to make progress and get things moving has been very disappointing and frustrating to say the least. Compulsory Purchase of the site by the Council is clearly an option but takes time and is only used as a last resort.
I have spoken to planning officers about the need for demolition and urged the site owner to submit his application now. There is an opportunity here for the plans to be exhibited in Starbeck for people to look at what is being proposed now that Covid restrictions have been eased. The Planning application would obviously go through the normal process and people could give their views as part of that before a decision would be made by the Planning committee.
I have lived in Starbeck for nearly 40 years and I am looking for a prestige redevelopment that will help to re-generate the High Street and encourage other independent shop owners and retailers to have a business here. I have no intention of letting this situation continue any longer than necessary despite that frustrations that exist. The current situation is in nobody’s interest – it’s time to drop talk of restoring the existing building and time to start afresh.