Plans to convert an empty hardware store in the centre of Axminster into an auction room have been backed by the town’s Chamber of Trade.
The premises in Lyme Street were vacated in April by hardware store Lawsons after 24 years of trading.
Plans for an auction room were submitted to East Devon District Council in June and the Axminster Chamber of Trade have supported the application, and said that refusing the planning application would be “grossly negligent”.
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Axminster town council however took a different view when they debated the application and recommended refusal of the application due to concerns about the safety of the building and the effect an auction house would have on traffic.
But Axminster Chamber of Commerce chose to support the application, and in a formal submission to East Devon District Council, chamber chairman Shane Morgan said: “The new proposal to use the premises for the purpose of regular auction activities and as a community meeting space, in our opinion, is a perfect fit.
“The premises are located between both privately-operated and council car parks, and will no doubt bring regular visitors to not only these car parks, but will also benefit the town itself. A town with large empty commercial premises is viewed as a dying town.
“We know this is not true of Axminster, but we do need to address and promote these larger properties to get them occupied as soon as possible and keep our ‘High Street’ looking vibrant.
“The applicant is clearly going to take steps to smarten up the building and along with new signage, which we note has the support of your conservation officer, can only be a good thing.
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“Not to allow this change of use application would be grossly negligent and we therefore urge the planning committee to approve this application.”
East Devon District Council will make a decision on the application.
Source: Devon live