B&M car park plans pose 'direct threat' to Clevedon

An artist's impression of the redeveloped B&M store

An artist's impression of the redeveloped B&M store in Clevedon. - Credit: Wessex Investors.

Plans to remove nearly half the parking spaces at a key retail site in Clevedon represent a 'direct threat' to the town’s economic centre, a councillor has claimed. 

More than 120 bays will be removed to make way for retirement flats and a café if Ever Ltd’s multi-million pound project to redevelop B&M to create a gym and shops go ahead. 

More than 800 residents have hit out at the proposals, saying the town needs housing for young people, not retirement flats, and warning that losing 121 parking spaces would be the 'worst thing possible' for the Triangle. 

More: Controversial plans for Clevedon B&M set for approval.

A decision will not be made until September at the earliest so North Somerset Council planners can visit the site and look again at the evidence. 

Speaking at the planning and regulatory committee meeting on June 24, Clevedon’s Cllr Crosby said: “Despite all [the council’s] policies there again appears to be little resistance offered to applicants seeking to build very expensive private health care and age-restricted accommodation in Clevedon, none of which since 2007 has adequately met the council’s section 106 demands for affordable housing provision. 

“This latest one is no different. The applicants propose that the only means of delivering the new retail scheme, which I support, is to remove 46 per cent of the car park spaces. 

“An application to reduce the car parking capacity of Clevedon’s principal retail and economic centre by 46 is a direct threat to its continued vitality and vibrancy.”
He said the application should be deferred for further scrutiny. 

Cllr Steve Bridger said: “An applicant, not the council or residents, is proposing quite a really substantial change to the centre of a major town in the district
“You need to bring people along with you on that – the council need to take back control of this. 

“It feels wrong that a single applicant can land this on a town when there isn’t much of a strategy behind it.”

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Roger Willmott said talks about housing on the site with an alternative participant “didn’t really proceed anywhere.” 

“It became evident that in the applicant’s view the proposed end user for the apartment block was absolutely crucial to seeing the scheme through,” he said, adding that officers had achieved significant improvements to the proposals but the applicant was unwilling to go any further. 

Seeing no room for negotiation, Cllr David Shopland said there was no point deferring and instead called for refusal, saying: “If we seek deferral it is very much like going out with a white flag when you know you have an indefensible position and in the end you’re going to lose. 

“Clevedon is utterly opposed to an old people’s home on the site but the developer is said in negotiations that the scheme cannot go ahead unless there is a housing development on the site – so there is no room for negotiation. 
“Clevedon cannot survive without this car park. You might as well shut every shop if you do it.” 

But Cllr Crosby stuck to his guns on calling for a deferral, arguing that the council would still have the option to refuse the plans at a later date. 
The proposal was backed unanimously.

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