Iconic Georgian building in Bridport could become a furniture shop (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)
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Iconic Georgian building in Bridport could become a furniture shop
One of Bridport’s most iconic Georgian buildings may get a new lease of life.
Grove House, the grade II listed former office building in the centre of Bridport is currently unused.
Now Mark and Sue Oxenbury of The Oak Loft want to turn the former social services base in Rax Lane into a wholesale and retail furniture business.
The three-storey mid-18th century building is an unusual opportunity to create a larger-than-average shop, they argue.
The Oak Loft is an established, family run, wholesaler and retailer of oak furniture and lighting and furnishing accessories,.
They already have showrooms in a listed former Brunel railway station property in Torquay and another showroom in Topsham.
Mr Oxenbury said: “In both of these properties we have created destination showrooms that bring people from far and wide. We intend to recreate this effect in Bridport, making Bridport a ‘destination showroom’.
“Our experience with Torre Station, an iconic Brunel building, shows our commitment to operating sympathetically from Grade II listed buildings.”
They do not intend to change the building.
Mr Oxenbury said: “We will not be changing the building in anyway as the room layout lends itself to the room settings that we wish to create, a simply stunning environment for our lovely furniture.”
They already employ 12 people and will be recruiting between four and six people in Bridport if they get the go-ahead.
Mr Oxenbury is encouraging people to look on their website at theoakloft.co.uk to see the style of their showrooms.
Agent John Milverton added: “Symonds and Sampsons advise that the town is ‘undershopped’ in that it has an under provision of large retail outlets which makes the town centre less attractive to shoppers.”
He said they were also told the office market was weak with a limited demand.
He added: “The Grove represents an unusual opportunity to create a larger than average shop but is unlikely to attract a single occupier as an office.”
Retail use would also bring in higher rents than multiple offices, he added, and proposed government changes in planning mean no permission would be needed in future to change office to retail in town centres.