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Why are councils against new agency branches opening – even during Covid?

Council in Scotland refuses application for change from retail to office in town south of Glasgow saying 'too many agents already'.

Nigel Lewis

estate agency

A council in Scotland has refused planning permission for a former pet store to be taken over by an estate agency, despite no alternative business being lined up, agreeing that the town in question ‘has too many agents already’.

South Lanarkshire has refused the landlord of Creature Comforts in Burnside near Glasgow permission to change the retail unit into an estate agency branch.

This followed the landlord being approached by a local estate agency that wanted to take the lease after the pet shop gave notice to quit.

Councils all over the UK have a long history of refusing change-of-use to estate agencies wishing to set up new branches, but the latest decision is baffling during the Covid pandemic as many high streets see businesses being closed or mothballed.

nugentCouncillors voted by 15 to seven at a meeting of the planning committee late last week in favour of a motion by Cllr Carol Nugent (pictured) to refuse the application, local media report.

“We need to protect the vibrant and bustling areas that we have and the diversity of our high street. I think it would be a big mistake to change the use from retail to office,” said Cllr Nugent.

The decision was also prompted by the ongoing ‘culture war’ waged in some towns by members of the public – Burnside councillors were told that In total, 178 objections to the proposal were lodged with South Lanarkshire Council with a number of people concerned about the number of estate agents already in Burnside.

South Lanarkshire councillors said they had voted to refuse the change of use despite its own planning officer advising the meeting a retail unit moving to a class two unit “would be acceptable in planning terms”.

Read more about estate agency branches.

February 1, 2021

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