By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter
A Stalybridge landlord has won approval for a £7,000 shop front refit on his Market Street premises despite opposition from Tameside Council planning chiefs.
The Stalybridge Correspondent broke the story of David Quinn’s attempts to bring the traditional recessed door opening level with the shop front in our November edition.
He revealed the recess is blighted by ‘urine, vomit and drugs’ but was prevented from making alterations because planners claimed it would be ‘insensitive’ to the conservation area.
The level of anti-social behaviour at the entrance ultimately led to his tenant from tanning and beauty salon Eye Candy moving out.
“Shop fronts are a conspicuous part of the street scene and conservation area, it is important that designs of new shop fronts respect the historic character of the area,” the planners’ report stated.
“Whilst the anti-social behaviour associated with a recess doorway is understood, the impact of the loss of the traditional recessed doorway is unacceptable.”
However councillors chose to reject officers’ recommendations.
Stalybridge South member Doreen Dickinson ridiculed the idea that Market Street could currently be considered a ‘conservation area’, describing it as a ‘mess’.
She moved the application be approved, telling officers: “I appreciate where you’re coming from with conservation, but conservation in Stalybridge and Market Street went years ago.
“I just think this is being pedantic over one small shop doorway that could put the street in a better light.
“Market Street is our main street from the station that people walk in and the sooner we get it cleaned up the better because at the moment it’s a mess.
“It’s not detrimental to the conservation area. You’ve only got to walk down it to see it isn’t a conservation area.”
Fellow ward councillor Liam Billington also spoke in support of the application.
“You just have to look in the area for the standard of heritage, such as Cosmo bingo right across the road, that does not fit in line with the council’s heritage plans nor do the other takeaways with the glowing signs,” he said.
“I think what Mr Quinn has proposed is reasonable. The design of it is complementary to the neighbouring property of Deli Felice.”
But development officer Martyn Leigh said: “Any development should be sympathetic with the character established by the conservation area.
“We’re not ruling out any alterations to the shop front.
“What concerns officers is the incremental erosion of the character of the conservation area.”
Mr Quinn told the committee he had been inspired to upgrade the shop front after a neighbouring business carried out similar work.
“I approached the landlord and asked if he minded me putting in a planning application to replicate what they had done,” he said.
“He was over the moon, saying he hoped to have more landlords acting the same way in bringing the area up to a higher standard and bringing more visitors to the town.
“My shop tenant has recently handed her tenancy notice in due to continuous unfortunate problems with having to disinfect the doorway and porch steps to make them free from urination, vomit, faeces and drug use.”
Mr Quinn added that the tenant in the flat above the shop is also unhappy with these “continuous doorway problems”.
The committee voted eight-two to go against officer recommendations and grant the shop front planning permission.