Change of use from retail to office, with external changes to the elevations. 1 Trehaven Parade, Woodhatch, Reigate RH2 7LL
Sweethaven was established in 1977 after taking over a local news agent. The business started as a newsagent/sweet shop in Trehaven Parade. In 1987 Sweethaven starts to specialise in dedicated PC sales. In 2000, Sweethaven brings on its first local business client, and then in 2002, started its focus on the delivery of high-quality managements services. In 2008, a new headquarters allowed for further expansion, two arms were fully established: Sweethaven Business Services for the B2B market and Sweethaven Education Services for the B2E market. Today, Sweethaven support over 55 businesses and 16 schools across the South East, Sweethaven is labelled by PCR as the UK’s Managed Service Provider of the Year.
Both our Planning & Architectural teams were involved in this project. Our architectural team prepared the drawings, whilst our planning team prepared a supporting statement and handled the planning application. The case presented several challenges, particularly relating to the fact that the premises lies within the Woodhatch Local Centre as defined by the Councils Development Management Plan. Local centres provide an important function, serving the local needs of communities by providing shops, services and facilities that are easily accessible to local residents; they are therefore afforded policy protection in the Council’s Local Plan.
Despite this, our planning team was able to argue that the proposed change of use would not result in harm to the vitality and viability of the local centre, paired with our architectural design which as stated by the Council “represent something of an improvement” to the previous appearance of the building.
We were pleased to be able to help Sweethaven obtain the required space needed to allow the continued success of the business. We look forward to seeing Sweethaven thriving in their new office space.
Applications for Changes of Use, can often be challenging, particularly when a premises falls in a Local Centre such as this one, where the Council keep an up to date record of the existing uses within the Local Centre. More recent changes to the Use Classes Order allow more flexibility to change uses in these areas, however changes to the exterior of buildings still requires planning permission.
Given the Local Centre location of this site, the Council needed to see several criteria to be met to ensure than no harm would come to the Local Centre. Due to this unit being a prominent feature within context of the street scene and the Local Centre itself, it was vital that the proposal maintained an open frontage to the public, conforming to the local character of the wider parade. We enjoyed working on this project, in particular, being able to keep open communication with the client, and the Council throughout.