A VACANT town centre site has been opened up to a ‘range of potential uses’ following a planning application approval.

The former Hayloft Gallery at 14 Wick Lane in Christchurch now allows for commercial, business, and service uses.

It had previously been restricted to use as a craft studio and gallery, something which developers said was lessening its appeal to buyers.

A planning application requesting the change of use to Class E was submitted by a Mr Wood to BCP Council.

The applicant noted the gallery has been empty for approximately a year due to a “decline in interest for the site's current use”.

He added a Class E will give “greater flexibility to make effective use of the land", "create new job opportunities", and "contribute positively to the local community and the realisation of the council’s strategic vision for Christchurch". 

The application received one objection, in which a resident said it would be a ‘loss to artists’ with ‘no other gallery to use in Christchurch’.

In recommending the scheme for approval, a BCP Council planning officer provided a list of appropriate Class E uses for the building.

These included a shop, office, financial services, professional services or medical services.

They said: “It is considered that, subject to condition limiting the potential range of Class E uses to the application premises, the proposed change of use would allow for a suitable range of potential uses which are compatible within this residential area.

“Weight has been given to the ongoing economic benefits of the scheme. It is not considered to result in harm to the character and appearance of the central Christchurch conservation area, or the setting of listed buildings and with the condition imposed is unlikely to lead to harmful impacts on neighbouring amenity.

“Sufficient car parking is provided in neighbouring car parks and the proposals will not increase flood risk to users of the premises.”

BCP Council granted the change of use application on November 11.

In a decision notice, the list of appropriate Class E uses was confirmed, as well as limited opening hours for any future businesses.