Homeowner may be forced to turn Shoebury flat back into a shop in planning row

A Southend resident who turned a shop into a home is set to be told to restore the property to its original use after carrying out work without planning permission.

Southend City Council is preparing to take enforcement action against the owner of 69 West Road, Shoebury, which was once part of a parade of four shops.

Other former shops neighbouring the two-storey building have also been converted into homes without planning permission and are under investigation.

Shoebury ward councillor Tony Cox said there was a fine line to tread when dealing with empty shops.

He said: “Having a parade of shops and having a retail offer is one thing, but I know some of those shops along West Road haven’t been let for years.

“There has been one shop that has already been converted into two additional properties with planning permission.

“In principle I don’t have a problem with those shops being converted rather than being boarded up. What I do have a problem with is if they are converted without planning permission .

“If they have been long-term boarded up then yes do something with them, but I have to say it’s a balancing act in that you can’t break the law. “

The council received a complaint in November 2021 that a shop front had been removed from the ground floor of the premises which had then been converted into a studio flat.

Despite requests by the council to restore the commercial unit, it has received no response.

In a report to Southend Council’s development control committee, which will decide on enforcement action next week, planning officers said: “Allowing this unit to become a dwelling would erode and compromise the commercial character of the area.

The report says: “The importance of the commercial character of the area is significant considering that the area is designated as a primary shopping frontage.

“Whilst there is no requirement for a certain percentage of uses within these areas, a residential use on the ground floor level to the front of the site would have a detrimental impact on the key shopping area.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter