As the Chamber’s Planning Executive, I have become increasingly aware of the number of buildings, and the amount of floor space, in the Borough which have been changed to residential us.
The Coalition Government introduced permitted Development Rights to encourage these changes to help the economy, increase the amount of residential accommodation and bring redundant commercial buildings back into use. This has happened quite extensively in Cheltenham with some examples being the former Chelsea Building Society, the Kraft Building, the former Echo Offices, the former Westbury Homes Offices in Lansdown Road and a number of buildings in Bath Street, Imperial Square, Andover Road and numerous other locations throughout the Town.
In most cases they were buildings that were no longer fit for purpose and their change was both reasonable and beneficial for the Town but it does leave a significant reduction in the amount of floor space that was once occupied for employment. While the Country has been in recession this has not been an issue but as things improve, and we hope continue to improve, the lack of available properties may become a problem. Although we need to compensate for these losses and also provide for expansion for the future by making sufficient allocations of land we also need a variety of existing buildings. Not all employers can afford the time delays or the higher costs of new built accommodation.
Part of my role is to pass on the views of members to the Borough Council so any comments and thoughts on this subject or any other is very welcome.