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New Northwood Hills cafÃÂ© allowed despite warnings
COUNCILLORS have defied the advice of planning officials to allow a vacant shop in Northwood Hills to reopen as a cafÃÂ©, despite being told that it would harm the vitality of the local area.
Officers from Hillingdon Council had warned that opening yet another food outlet in the area around Northwood Hills station "would result in a concentration of non-retail uses within this part of the primary shopping frontage which would be detrimental to the vitality and viability of the shopping centre".
But at the monthly North Planning Committee meeting councillors voted unanimously to overrule the advice and approve a change of use application to "encourage use of the property during these economically difficult times".
The former Costcutters store on Joel Street has been vacant since October 2008 and its new owner had promised to install new double-glazed doors and a disabled toilet to the premises, in a bid to save the site from falling into a state of disrepair.
Reacting to the news this week, Northwood Hills Chamber of Commerce chairman Steve Allen told the Gazette it was a difficult decision to make.
"We don't particularly want another cafÃÂ© in the high street and the residents' association are very against it, but at the same time it would get another empty premises open again," Mr Allen said.
"It is a catch 22 because that particular Costcutters is an eyesore, it really is bad, and we as retailers would like all the properties filled."
In the report to the planning committee, it was revealed that the most recent shopping survey, undertaken in July 2009, showed retail uses within the primary frontage of Northwood Hills town centre were at 51.5 per cent.
Mr Allen, owner of Allen Brothers menswear shop in Joel Street, added: "There is another cafÃÂ© opposite there [Costcutters] already - we have got enough."
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