Council rejects plans to turn troubled convenience store - fined for selling illicit tobacco - into fish and chip shop

PUBLISHED: 16:06 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:06 11 October 2018

Europa High st March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Europa High st March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

A bid to turn a troubled March store – fined for selling illicit tobacco – into a fish and chip shop has been rejected because of fears the town centre would have too many restaurants.

A nostalgic view of Broad Street, March, a Conservation area.A nostalgic view of Broad Street, March, a Conservation area.

Fenland Council planners say noise and smells from the proposed change of use of Europa in Broad Street would also affect nearby residents.

The council says its’ policy is to keep retail alive in the town centre – turning a shop into a restaurant wouldn’t support that objective.

The decision was taken by officials without being debated by the planning committee even though the idea had won support from March Town Council.

It brings to an end, at least for now, the idea of neighbouring Café Express owners who want to expand their business by opening the fish and chip shop next door.

One local fish and chip owner was among objectors claiming his business was already struggling and more competition was the last thing he needed.

March Society, however, were more pragmatic noting that the application was for change of use and would not affect the look of the building.

“The decision will come down to whether Broad Street needs another food outlet weighed against having an empty retail unit,” they told planners.

Cafe Express applied for permission to turn the ground floor shop into a hot food take away including altering the shop front and installing external extraction fans.

A report to the council said that Europa is “struggling to survive due to the close proximity of alternative food sources such as Sainsburys, Lidl, Iceland and Tesco Express.

“It is therefore closing down but is still open at the present time.”

Council planners said the main issues arising from this application “relate to the loss of a retail unit, which would serve to weaken the retail element with the primary retail area and frontage in the town of March.”

They also said that it would have an impact “in terms of noise and inadequate filtration within the extraction and ventilation system.”

The officers’ report added: “The application does not comply with local plan policies or the March Neighbourhood Plan which seeks to maintain a strong retail function within March and Wisbech and local plan policies which seek to protect residential amenity from diverse impacts such as noise.”

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