Second phase of Talisman shops project looks set to be scrapped
LONG awaited plans for a new shopping development in Talisman Square could be off the cards after an application for a permanent car park was submitted to planners.
The application by land owners Cobalt Estates seeks to change the use on the land from retail space to a car park comprising 44 car parking spaces including four disabled spaces and cycle parking.
If given the go ahead Cobalt Estates, in association with developers Discovery Properties, will begin work in early 2013.
A previous application for a temporary car park until commercial interest for the promised new shopping units took off, was rejected but the land still has planning permission for retail use.
Hugo Hawkings, chief executive of Discovery Properties, stressed that the shopping development is still part of the long term goal.
But if the car park is granted, planners would have to grant approval for a second change of use back to retail for the development to be completed as planned.
“We still very much believe the north side of the centre will be retail space, with a large unit as part of the scheme,” he said.
“The reality is, however, in the current economic climate speculative retail development is not prudent at this time.
“The hoarding on the north side of the centre has been in place since the demolition of the old units in 2010, but was only ever going to be a short-term solution.
“This area as it is at the moment is benefiting no one.”
Warwick District Council planning officers confirmed that the application sought permanent permission, but that they could impose a temporary restriction should that be deemed appropriate.
The move is being welcomed by retailers in Talisman Square with Frances Smith, manager of Kenilworth Books insisting that any development if better than boarded up land.
“I am very keen for this to go ahead,” she said. “At the moment the square is hidden behind tatty old boards, it just looks so sad and it’s not doing anyone any good.
“With the poor lighting now, you walk home and have no idea who is lurking around these dark corners, it is not safe and it is better for the space to be used that left as it is.
“People would rather see shops, but it is just not practical to expect it when the units are not attracting the right attention from retailers.”
Geoff Burns, manager of Kenilworth Wines in Talisman Square said that as a local business he believed it would be “extremely beneficial” to town centre trade.
Kenilworth Town Council planners made no objection to the latest plans, stating that they considered the proposal beneficial in the short term but only “pending the completion of the previously approved redevelopment project” which may not now be on the cards.
They asked for approval be conditional upon a rolling re-approval process at intervals not exceeding two years and be made exclusive to this applicant.
The application is expected to go before the planning committee later this month.
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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