Plans to turn former ambulance offices in Frome into flats unanimously approved by councillors

By James Smith

7th Jun 2024 | Local News

The building has been empty since 2022 (image via planning application)
The building has been empty since 2022 (image via planning application)

Somerset councillors have unanimously given approval to plans to convert a Frome office block into flats.

Frome Town Council had objected to the scheme for the former base of St John's Ambulance on Bath Street, saying the scheme does not "adequately meet" the requirements for more flats in the town centre.

But councillors at this week's Somerset Council planning committee signed off on the application, in line with a report from the authority's planning officers.

"The marketing carried out provides the council with some understanding of the current commercial premises market within the area and it is clear that the need for office accommodation within the area has significantly diminished with the advent of hybrid working i.e. hot-desking and more employees working from home on a permanent basis, before and since the pandemic," Somerset Council's report said.

It added; "It is considered that the benefits of bringing the premises forward for a purely residential use will in this case, outweigh the relatively limited harm with respect to the loss of employment floorspace in the area."

The grade II listed building - known as Church Hill House - has been vacant since late 2022, and was acquired by its current owners in July 2023.

Plans show the new development will include a mixture of one and two-bed properties.

The creation of flat five will require the existing loft space to be converted.

"The loss of the commercial area is not of a concern due to the buildings particular location," the application explains.

"It is generally acceptable for town centre location buildings to have residential use on the upper floors. Ground floors within the primary and secondary frontages have the protection to retain their retail or commercial based use to ensure a town's vibrancy, character and active locations, attracting foot fall to the town, where goods and services are to be expected."

See the full report here.


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