A planning application to redevelop the former Knights building was approved last night by Reigate & Banstead’s planning committee.
The scheme will see the ground floor divided into two retail units, with the upper floors and rear garage becoming six flats: 3 x one-bedroom; 2 x two-bedroom; and 1 x three-bedroom.
A council officer explained that the facade of the grade II listed building would be retained, and that there are already two separate shopfront doorways.
The committee also heard that the local policy requiring a minimum amount of retail frontage in the town centre doesn’t apply to retail space on upper floors.
Applicant St Dominics Properties bought the building after the Knights of Reigate department store closed at the end of January this year.
During the debate in the council chamber, concerns were raised that the flats will not have any parking. Cllr Michael Blacker (Con, Reigate Central) made that point and others:
“Once again, more flats, no parking, no amenity space, we’re just building trouble for the future. However, I think, I hope other councillors would agree, the overriding principle of this application is that we want to keep the retail units and if the flats help retain those units then I have no option but to support it, and that is what I intend to do.”
The planning application and listed building consent were each approved by 15 – 1 with 2 abstentions.
Earlier, Cllr Michael Selby (Res, Nork), seconded by Cllr David Pay (Con, Redhill West) sought to defer the application to allow officers time to further consider concerns raised by councillors, and in particular a desire to specify, in the planning approval, signage and frontage details. But that motion was defeated by 10 votes to 7, with 1 abstention. The committee heard, however, that further details would still need to be approved as part of the planning conditions.
At the time the plans were filed with the council back in May, director of St Dominics Adam Coffer said:
“We want to breathe life back into this once treasured building. It had been largely neglected in terms of repair and become inefficient as a store. We look forward to giving it the love and attention required to reinvigorate the building and area.”
Mr Coffer also said that the company would work closely with the council and other parties.
During the application process, amendments were made to deal with concerns of the borough’s conservation officer, and what had been seven flats were reduced to six.
After changes were made to the plans, the conservation officer had no objection, subject to further details being approved in due course.
Reigate Business Guild said in comments on the plans:
“The Reigate Business Guild wishes to express its support and welcomes this planning application. We look forward to this iconic, historic and vital retail element of the Reigate townscape having new life breathed into it.”
Michael Knight, whose family owned Knights until it was told to Tudor Williams in 2006, made a number of detailed comments on the plans but generally welcomed the proposals.
Prior to its closure in January, Knights of Reigate had a presence in the town for over 130 years. Parts of the Bell Street building date back to the late 16th or early 17th century.
Impression of the proposed frontage
Watch the debate on the council’s website – after a few seconds the video will start at the correct point
Our previous article about the filing of the plans in May 2016
Our previous article on the closure of Knights in January 2016