Shops and flats plan for TJ Hughes approved, but no retailers are signed up

The vacant TJ Hughes building.

The vacant TJ Hughes building. - Credit: Archant

After years of delays, plans have finally been approved for Weston-super-Mare’s empty TJ Hughes building – but no retailers have been secured.

An artist's impression of the plans for TJ Hughes. Picture: AWW Inspired Environments

An artist's impression of the plans for TJ Hughes. Picture: AWW Inspired Environments - Credit: Archant

Dove Properties has this week secured planning permission from North Somerset Council to convert the former department store into three ground-floor retail units and 19 flats, ranging from studio to two-bedroom flats, on the floors above.

The High Street building has been vacant since TJ Hughes went into administration in 2011, with Dove buying it two years later for £670,000 at auction.

Delays have plagued the project, the latest being wrangles over parking provision

With BHS, which has been vacant for almost two years, and TJ Hughes gathering dust two of the town’s most prominent retail buildings have been out of use – but both face brighter futures after B&M confirmed it will move into BHS.

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The council’s verdict allows the developer to make ‘progress’ – but uncertainty remains on the future of the building with no tenants lined up to fill the shops.

Tim Warrell, of Dove, told the Mercury: “It’s taken a long time. Our application went in last July so it has taken 12 months for it to be approved which is frustrating.

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“It’s a very difficult retail market. We are reviewing our options to best combine ground floor retail with residential accommodation above.

“It’s not a project where we can just go and do it because of the market conditions. We thought we had one retailer in the bag, but it fell through early this year.”

TJ Hughes Store.

TJ Hughes Store. - Credit: Archant

The plans originally earmarked the first floor of the building for 21 student flats, but this was scrapped in November in line with concerns raised by the council. Instead, the first floor will be used for ancillary retail space.

With no occupiers confirmed, the path to completing the project appears unclear – but Mr Warrell affirmed his desire to see the revamp through to a close.

He said: “In an ideal world, from a construction perspective, you would do the upper floors first, but we need to talk with out sales agents on the market situation.

“We want to see the building occupied and planning permission takes things forward.

“It has given us the ability to make progress, but I can’t predict the exact eventual outcome just yet.”

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