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Focus Chippenham set to downsize

Focus DIY in Chippenham could be about to downsize or move out completely after a plan to split it into three separate shops was submitted to councillors.

Legal and General, the owner of the warehouse-style shop at Methuen Parkin Bath Road, on the outskirts of Chippenham has applied to Wiltshire Council to create three new shops on the site of the 20-year-old building.

Focus is refusing to comment on its own plans for the site, or whether it even intends to stay there.

The move has worried Chippenham Vision director Tim Martienssen and chairman John Clark who fear the smaller units may lure more traders out of the town centre.

Mr Clark said: “At the moment the land is allocated as A1 retail in the local plan.

“It is being used as a Focus DIY operation which poses no threat to the town centres of Chippenham and Corsham, because operations of this scale could not fit into a town centre setting.

“However, under this planning application, part of the site would be split up into smaller retail units, which would be directly comparable with what town centre retail units could be used for.

“Therefore it is essential that suitable restriction is placed on what the units are used for, to prevent a damaging effect on the town centres.

“We’ve now got to persuade everyone to insist that appropriate conditions are put on this site to protect the town centre.

“Although there is currently no date for the committee, we are hoping to encourage people to read the document online and protest against trade being taken away from our town centre.”

He is worried that some Chippenham people will not have seen the planning application notice as its location means it comes under Corsham Area Board rather than Chippenham.

Corsham town councillor Peter Davies said: “I have a real concern not just for Chippenham but also for Corsham.

“Chippenham is a much bigger town with a wider diversity of shops and Corsham is comparatively very vulnerable. I think we can use that old adage, use it or lose it.”

A spokesman for Focus DIY said: “It has been confirmed that the landlord has made an application and that if it is successful it will increase the options there are for the store going forwards.

“Other than that, I wouldn’t be able to comment further.”

Source : Alex Winter - Wiltshire Gazette & Herald

10 April 2011
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