Turning high street banks into housing

Conversion of Sidmouth’s Barclays to residential apartments

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High streets are losing their retail and banking services:

Our changing shopping habits – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And with new regulations, it will be much easier to turn shops and banks into housing:

The ‘planning revolution’ in house building – consultation launched – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The question is, though, whether the same regulations will provide more than rabbit hutches:

Turning shops and offices into ‘tiny homes’ – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Today’s Sunday Times suggests this might be the case:

The conversion of disused shops into tiny flats is a booming business, reviving the spectre of slum housing

Scarcely bigger than a parking space and starved of natural light, they could soon be a feature of your local high street. Developers are exploiting planning laws to convert empty banks, takeaways and barbers into tiny flats, causing fears Britain’s high streets are becoming modern slum housing. Relaxed planning laws and the impact of the coronavirus on the high street have led to a flood of applications to convert shops into homes under so-called permitted development rights (PDRs), which until recently had mainly been used for office conversions.

In Southampton’s Shirley Road, the Open Fire Centre store sold electric and gas fires. Now it is six studio flats. The smallest measures 15 square metres (160 sq ft), about half the area needed for a home…

One room, one window: the ‘cells’ for rent coming to your high street | News | The Sunday Times (paywall)

Meanwhile in Sidmouth, the banks have all but left the high street:

Sidmouth loses yet another high street bank – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The rear of one has already been turned into a flat:

19/2614/FUL | Conversion of rear section of Barclays Bank to a residential apartment, to include two new windows to the southern elevation. | Rear Section Of 40 – 42 High Street Sidmouth EX10 8EB

The front of the building is also likely to become another flat – which will definitely not be a rabbit hutch – but which nevertheless signals that the high street will become more residential:

Application made to convert Sidmouth Barclays bank into new home | Sidmouth Herald

This will be considered by the Town Council’s planning committee:

Planning Meetings – Sidmouth Town Council

All of which might, on the other hand, provide a new mix and a ‘dynamic balance’ for the centre of town:

“The town square is more than a marketplace.” – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Save our High Street: creating places where you can “work, rest and play” – Vision Group for Sidmouth

photo: Barclays Bank, Sidmouth © Jaggery cc-by-sa/2.0 :: Geograph Britain and Ireland

   
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