The retail giant vacated the premises at 47-51 Spring Gardens in April 2019, having been there for 85 years, and while Simpson Furniture opened a new showroom there in April, much of the building has been left in limbo.
In December, a London property investor and a firm of Derbyshire architects submitted a planning request to change the use of the building and allow the creation of a hotel on the upper floors with a café and restaurant at street level, but the application was deemed invalid.
Having resolved that issue, the application is now open for residents to comment on until Thursday, August 4, before the council makes its final decision.
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Given its location in the conservation area, the proposal has already been assessed by heritage planning advisors HCUK Group, which concluded: “There would not be any harm to the setting or significance of statutorily listed buildings. Furthermore, the use of high-quality materials and locally relevant design has the potential to reinforce the positive visual impact of the external alterations.”
However, others have taken a more cautious stance, including High Peak MP Robert Largan, who said: “Of course, it’s good to see a plan to bring this vacant building back into use which will bring visitors into Buxton.
“I am concerned about the additional pressure this will put on parking in the town centre. I hope that the ground floor can still be re-opened for retail. I’d strongly encourage residents to look at the plans and share their views.”
On Facebook, residents have reacted by questioning whether the plans are the best use of the building, given other local needs.
Louise Coughlan summed up the feelings of many, saying: “We don’t need another hotel and saying people will spend in the centre, what on? It is time to have decent shops for locals most of us want to support local and this is increasingly difficult to do.”
For full details, search for applications HPK/2021/0731, for the ground floor, or HPK/2021/0731, for the hotel, at highpeak.gov.uk. Comments can be submitted via the website or by email to [email protected], quoting the application references.