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Controversial gun shop plans approved by planning committee

PUBLISHED: 12:40 14 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:40 14 November 2019

The front unit at Hungate Court in Beccles will be used as a gun shop. Picture: Greta Levy

The front unit at Hungate Court in Beccles will be used as a gun shop. Picture: Greta Levy

Archant

A scheme to convert a former town centre gym into a gun shop and a children's nursery has been approved, despite opposition.

The plans, which were submitted by Anergreen Properties Ltd, were approved by East Suffolk Council's planning committee at Riverside, Lowestoft, on Tuesday, November 12.

The former gymnasium at Hungate Court, Beccles, will be converted into three separate units - with a gun shop at the front and a nursery developed at the back.

Councillor Graham Elliot, from Beccles said despite "emotive" concerns, there wasn't an issue with the plans.

"I think it is inappropriate for a gun shop to be next to a nursery.

"From a planning perspective, it is a shop. It is disappointing but it is a limitation of the planning system," he added.

The scheme will create six jobs. The proposal centres around subdividing the gym building to accommodate "to the rear and east end a nursery and to the north and fronting Hungate a retail premises," according to the planning report.

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One letter of objection was received from the public, which detailed a lack of parking for staff and parents as well as noise concerns.

Suffolk County Council's Highways Department objected to the plans, while The Beccles Society also "recommended refusal."

On concerns with parking, Mr Elliot said the children's nursery is not a place to drop children off and pick them up, but a centre for parents to go with their children.

Mr Elliot said: "That is a specific condition, it can only be used for the sort of nursery where parents will park elsewhere and go with their children."

Ahead of the meeting, the report to planners stated that the town council "recommended approval while expressing some concerns."

The report stated: "Noise from the proposed nursery is considered little different in amplitude from that arising from the gymnasium.

"The comment that a gun shop and nursery are poor neighbours cannot carry weight in the planning consideration as the use class order does not distinguish types of retail activity."

The recommendation to councillors was "to approve with conditions and for further work to be conducted to satisfy concerns over noise before use."

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