Long awaited re-development of old freezer centre in March to shops and flats is approved

Drawing submitted to Fenland Council shows how the old freezer centre in Station Road, March, will b

Drawing submitted to Fenland Council shows how the old freezer centre in Station Road, March, will be redeveloped. Plans have been approved. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Demolition of the former freezer centre in Station Road, March, and its replacement with three shops and 26 flats has been approved.

Councillors on Fenland Council's planning committee said the transformation of the "eyesore" site was "long-over due".

"Viability issues prevent the scheme from making provision for affordable housing on the site," stated a report to the committee.

However planners insisted the principle of the redevelopment of the land was encouraged by both March town neighbourhood plan and the district council's own local plan.

The 1.7 acre site comprises a vacant "and somewhat dilapidated shop unit (former freezer centre)" with land to the rear on the south side.

Councillor Anne Hay, deputy chair of the planning committee, said: "The previous application was out of scale but I don't think this one will have any negative impact on the area."

Earlier proposals for 34 flats were scaled back.

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March Town Council was in support of the scheme while the March Society said that they wanted to ensure "good quality design of high quality".

The council's senior planning officer told councillors that the scheme "had demonstrated that it is not able to provide any S106 planning obligations due to economic viability".

A report to the committee says that the site has an extensive planning history dating back to the 1970's, involving permissions for the demolition and replacement of the building.

"More recently, there has been a trend of refusals/withdrawals and a single permission granted in 2008 for a mixed retail/residential use," it said.

"Following the more recent adoption of the current Fenland Local Plan in 2014 there has only been a single decision in relation to the site".

The proposal includes for a total of 26 flats comprising 9 x 1-bed and 17 x 2-bed flats, with a retail unit occupying the ground floor of the building fronting Station Road.

Twelve parking spaces are to be provided within the site too.

The decision was made at the planning meeting at Fenland Hall today (November 6).