Student housing scrapped from TJ Hughes plan

Before and after? TJ Hughes is set for redevelopment. Picture left; Mark Atherton. Picture right: AW

Before and after? TJ Hughes is set for redevelopment. Picture left; Mark Atherton. Picture right: AWW Inspired Environments - Credit: Archant

Plans to create student flats at Weston-super-Mare’s long-vacant TJ Hughes building have been scrapped.

The vacant TJ Hughes building.

The vacant TJ Hughes building. - Credit: Archant

Dove Properties planned to revamp the former High Street department store by building three ground-floor retail units, and a mix of private and student accommodation on the three floors above.

But, in response to council concerns, the applicant has gone back to the drawing board and removed the 21 student flats from its plans.

Instead the first floor has been designated for additional retail space to supplement one of the ground-floor units, and the second and third floors are earmarked for 19 private flats between them.

Weston Town Council had criticised the original scheme, arguing it ‘represented an over-redevelopment of the site given the size and number of both flats and student accommodation units’.

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In informing North Somerset Council of the revised scheme, a spokesman for the developer said it ‘understands this amendment will lead to recommendation for approval’.

Central ward councillor Richard Nightingale told the Mercury he wants the building ‘back in use as soon as possible’.

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He added: “However I had several concerns with the previous application including the element of student housing. Developers often opt to maximise financial return from high density, sometimes cramped accommodation, often without the facilities that students need.

“It would be wrong not to raise this with the developers, to make sure our young people are supported. I therefore welcome the removal of this from the new proposal.

“This application still leaves a reduction in retail space on the ground floor, due to the inclusion of car parking and I encourage residents to contact me with their views on whether this is a compromise worth taking on board to bring the site into use.”

Mike Bell, councillor for Central ward, said the revised scheme was a ‘definite improvement and shows the developer is listening to local concerns’.

He added: “With the opening of Dolphin Square, this part of the High Street and St James Street should become really vibrant and the opportunities to attract new retailers must be strong.

“The right mix of uses for our town centre buildings is important, but more crucial is that they are in active use and not standing empty.”

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