Bridge Garage buildings to be restored - work to begin as soon as approval is given
The owners of the Bridge Garage - members of the Dean family - have applied for a variation of the planning consent they hold for the redevelopment of the Bridge Garage site.
This new application concerns the buildings to the north of the filling station which have long been a source of vocal complaints as an eyesore and the first thing visitors see as they enter the town from the east.
The previous plans were in the name of Bridge Homes & Developments Limited. They had envisaged knocking down the showroom - former home to the original Bridge Garage and several well-known motor dealerships - and building a house on the site.
Now they propose to restore the row of buildings "to their original character". Councillors on the Town Council's Planning Committee were given details of the plans by Malcolm Ward, who is working with Ron Dobson Associates on the restoration plans.
Looking along the row - from right to left in the above architect's drawing, the former showroom (or 'Emporium' building) will in part have traditional hanging tile and brick facings to make it part of the whole row.
The next building has historically been residential and will be restored as a two-bedroom house. The other two buildings will be for commercial use - as they have been in the past. The three commercial units will have a variety of uses. There has already been interest in turning the former showroom into a restaurant.
The frontage of the three buildings to the left of the showroom have fine Edwardian fronts with older listed construction behind them. The conglomeration of modern, single storey buildings behind the row will be demolished to provide parking spaces and a garden.
Mr Ward told councillors: "The whole aim is to restore the buildings before they fall down - they won't really fall down, but they desperately need help." He said that work on the restoration will begin as soon as planning consent is given.
When asked why the two left hand buildings would be restored for commercial rather than residential use, Mr Ward explained that there would not be enough financial return on residential units to cover the expensive restoration. Eventual commercial use meant that funds could be generated for the restoration.
The planning application is relying on much of the previously approved plans. And when the applications were considered during the meeting Councillor Susie Price thought more up to date surveys should be supplied - especially about bats and flood risks.
Councillors approved the plans with the rider that new bat and flood surveys should be called for. Councillor Price voted against the plans.
NOTE: This report has been written without access to the Wiltshire Council Planning Portal website which has not been available for two days.