BCP Council (Poole): Matt Annen recently secured planning planning permission for the conversion of vacant floor space within a building to an orthopaedic health clinic on Wimborne Road near Poole Town Centre.

The building was originally approved as a social club in 2009 which was not implemented. Pure Town Planning then secured permission for a change of use to offices in 2018, however this was also not implemented. The application site remained empty with minimal internal works completed.

Policy PP26 states ‘The Council will seek to retain sites currently or last used for community facilities and makes an important contribution to people’s quality of life and general well-being’. They provide for the health, social, educational, spiritual, recreational, leisure and cultural needs of the community. Paragraph 8.15 states ‘Community facilities include those within use class D1 of the use class order (clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries, museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law courts, non educational/training centre).’

Use Class E of the Use Classes Order 1987 (as amended) was introduced on 1st September 2020 and covers the former use classes of A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional), A3 (restaurants and cafes) as well as parts of D1 (non-residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) and puts them all into one new use class. As such, the proposal essentially changes an existing approved Class E use for a replacement Class E allowing for the community facility use of the building to be retained.

As such the appointed planning officer considered that the proposed change of use would therefore not have any significant harm to the character of the area, positively contributing to the needs to the community set within a sustainable location. It was considered that the proposal would not comprise the activities and vitality of the use of the building and would introduce healthcare employment opportunities to the region. It is also noted that the proposed re-use of the building would ensure longevity of the building which has laid empty since the original permission which would positively contribute to the vitality of the area.

If you have a vacant building and are unsure how to maximise its full potential with alternative uses either residential or commercial, then please contact Pure Town Planning for advice.