In the last few weeks, I have been considering the merits of a proposal to transform the empty bank at 266 Byres Road in to a cafe. This plan does seem to be contrary to the policy which offers Protection and Promotion Of Local Shopping Centres and Local Shops. Using these premises for a coffee shop will result in the loss of a shop unit at Class 2 to create a Class 3 cafe.
The premises at 266 Byres Road are in an attractive, prominent location within the Byres Road/Dumbarton Road Town Centre. This is located next to the entrance of Hillhead Subway and at the junction with Great George Street where there is a significant level of footfall.
Within this locality, there are several children's shops selling clothing and toys. I think that it would be appropriate for the premises at 266 Byres Road to be developed as a retail outlet for children's goods and services. This focus on a retail strategy linked to the needs of children and young people could support existing traders and build up the area as a retail destination for families.
These plans for another cafe does not support the development of retail space within Byres Road or increase provision of high street shopping opportunities. It will extend the over provision of cafes/coffee shops on Byres Road. This does not delivery a mixed of retailers in the area. It only leads to reduction in the range of goods and services available within Byres Road.
A recent survey identified the shortfall in Class 1 retail and in Class 1 shops selling things other than prepared food and drink. Over the last ten year period, there has been a significant reduction in the number of Class 1 retail units. The impact on the Byres Road Principle Retail Area is that non-Class 1 uses are 35% of all units, which is well above the target of 20% within the local development plan.
It would appear that this proposal will result in too many cafes at the Great George Street/Byres Road junction next to the Hillhead Subway. There is already a good choice of places to go for a coffee at this location including Starbucks, Tinderbox and Smug Coffee Shop. There is clearly no qualitative or quantitative shortfall in class 3 or sui generis premises in this prime retail area.
In addition, this proposal will result in a loss of residential amenity within the Byres Road and Great George Street area. Refuse collection related the proposal development will result in numerous commercial bins and waste disposal facilities. This area is a hotspot for flytipping and street littering. This proposal will increase the problems with littering in the street and have a negative impact on the quality of life for residents living in tenements within the locality.