A Kenilworth chiropodist is set to switch her business to larger premises in the town after councillors ignored a recommendation from their officers that would have halted the move.
Kate Harrison now plans to move into a vacant shop in the Oaks Precinct, Caesar Road, where she hopes to be able to take on extra staff.
Mrs Harrison had the backing of more than 30 people who had written to support the move and another 67 who had signed a petition. The local district councillor was also in favour, speaking at length at this week’s Planning Committee of Warwick District Council.
But planning officers were unmoved, explaining that a chiropodists would mean a change of use for the building from A1 (retail use) to D1 (non-residential institutions such as clinics, health centres and children’s nurseries) and to do that the applicant had to show that there was an unmet local need.
Mrs Harrison, who currently runs Courtyard Footcare which adjoins the Kenilworth Chiropractic Clinic in Warwick Road, explained to councillors that there was already a great demand for the services and a move to the Oaks Precinct would place them within walking distance of five retirement complexes.
She added that around 18 to 20 patients are currently seen each day but that could double with a move to the larger premises where a practice manager could be employed and a second consulting room opened.
Cllr Richard Davies, who represents the area surrounding the Oaks Precinct on Warwick District Council, urged the officers to think again.
“I feel passionately about this as the ward councillor representing this area for the past 18 years,” he explained.
“I know of a succession of retail businesses that have come and failed. It is on a road that goes nowhere in particular – it is not the sort of place that you are going to chance upon so most of the premises are by appointment. This is not a busy footfall area.”
Cllr Davies pointed out that other than a convenience store, the other units in the precinct were occupied by such businesses as hairdressers, a tanning parlour and a tattooist.
He added: “Just 300 yards down the road there is a Budgens supermarket and a fish and chip shop. What other retail premises could expect to slot in here and last longer than six months?”
Cllr Alan Boad warned against a change of use for the premises as it might open the floodgates to similar applications elsewhere but other councillors were in favour with Cllr Andrew Day suggesting that the fact that the business was looking to take on extra staff and open a second consulting room showed that there was an unmet need for their services.
Councillors voted nine-one in favour of a change of use for the Oaks Precinct premises.