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Plans to replace store near church with 11 apartments

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THE former Furnishing Centre on Victoria Street could be demolished and replaced with 11 apartments, if a planning application is approved.

The Furnishing Centre Ltd

According to the document, which has been submitted by Godel Architects, the site has been vacant since mid-2018, when the previous tenant moved out because of ‘difficult trading conditions’ due in part to its ‘inappropriate’ location.

The firm also says that the building was constructed in 1935 and would now require substantial investment to bring it up to standard.

‘The building fills the entire site at ground-floor level and consists of a main street façade with largely open-plan showrooms at both ground and first floors,’ the application says.

‘The street façade is predominantly painted brickwork, unusual for this area of town, and windows are of varying styles, the shopfront having evolved over the years with little finesse.

‘To the rear, the roof and building cladding is quasi-industrial in feel. The building fabric is generally of a very low standard of construction, with little or no thermal-insulation provision.’

The application adds that the new development would be made up of three one- or two-bedroom (two-person) apartments, four two- or three-bedroom (three-person) apartments and four two-bedroom (four-person) apartments which would be built over four floors. Ten parking spaces and bicycle storage are also due to be included.

‘This proposal would replace the existing commercial building with high-quality flat accommodation with discreet parking, designed in such a way as to harmonise with the rhythm, style and scale of the street,’ the application says.

‘The design aims to provide a more appropriate and characterful building that will help to consolidate the streetscape whilst providing a range of modern adaptable homes in the heart of St Helier, close to local amenities and services.’ But according to pre-application advice contained within the application, planning officers were concerned that the development might affect the view of St Thomas’ Church.

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‘It is the view of the department that the proposal is inappropriately scaled to the street, and that this is detrimental to the setting of St Thomas’ Church [a listed building].

‘Therefore further works are needed to reduce the scale of the building, and to assimilate the form better into the morphology of the street, reducing any impact of height [as per the previous feedback from the Historical Environment Team].’

However, in their application, Godel Architects argue that the new building would sit ‘comfortably and contextually’ amongst its surroundings and would create ‘much-needed accommodation’ within St Helier.

‘This design has been thought through very carefully and assessed by means of a thorough urban analysis which clearly indicates that the proposed building is appropriate for the site, appropriately scaled and detailed in such a way as to enhance the streetscape and to preserve and enhance the setting of the St Thomas’ Church.’

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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