The potential loss of a high street retailer, should plans to turn a Grade II-listed building into flats go ahead, would be 'completely unacceptable' and 'undermine the vibrancy' of Bridport town centre, councillors say.

Proposals for 17 flats at 13 East Street, Bridport, were discussed by Bridport Town Council's planning committee last week, when councillors strongly objected to the application.

A petition containing 172 signatures from members of the public opposing the plans was also presented at the meeting.

The building currently houses Peacocks which has said that, should the development go ahead, it would no longer be able to trade at the store as the new unit would be too small for its requirements.

In response to this, councillors felt the loss of retail space would be 'completely unacceptable' and 'undermine the vibrancy of Bridport town centre.'

They also felt the proposed development would have a 'severely detrimental' impact on the conservation area within which it sits, and on surrounding listed buildings as well as the application site, which is itself a listed building. The building height and design are 'completely out of keeping' with the surrounding area, according to the committee.

The also raised concerns the application made no commitment to affordable accommodation, particularly affordable rented accommodation.

The proposals, from CPLC Associates, show plans to demolish the current lower back part of the building to make way for a new building housing two flats on the ground floor, six on both the first and second floors and three on a third floor.

The 17 proposed flats each contain a kitchen and lounge area and a bathroom/ensuite and separate bedrooms. The development would come with new drainage, bin and cycle storage areas, Juliet balconies to lounge areas on the first and second floors and full-length balconies on the third floor and second floor on front-facing flats. There would also be a lift to accommodate disabled access. There is no parking provision.

But councillors felt the application appeared to be a speculative venture based on the commercial interests of the landowner, with no regard to the community impact of the proposed development.

In response to the widely-signed petition against the plans, councillors said they stood with the local community, whose representations and petition demonstrate 'overwhelming local opposition.'

Councillors disputed the description of the site as a brownfield site, stating it is in productive use as a retail building in the town centre.

They felt that the type of development, in a different location and addressing the other concerns they highlighted – in particular affordable housing - could have some merit, and said the town council would be happy to discuss this further with the applicant.