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Wednesday, 01 July 2015

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Town council snubs plans for Cockermouth shopping arcade

Cokermouth Town Council has turned its back on plans by Mitchells for a new shopping arcade in Station Street.


Mitchells wants to turn Tithe House, which housed the former JobCentre, into a permanent arcade of shops, offices and a cafe.

But town councillors spoke out against the proposal at a meeting last Thursday, saying that empty shops on Main Street should be filled first.

Some felt the plans submitted by Mitchells were not detailed enough.

A Mitchells spokesman said this week that he was disappointed by the council’s lack of support.

He said the company would appeal if planning permission was refused.

The Tithe House building, which is owned by Mitchells, provided a lifeline for Cockermouth businesses after the November 2009 floods.

It became known as Main Street at Mitchells when local traders took up the company’s invitation to open units there.

The company last month applied to Allerdale council for change of use so it could open the complex, which could create up to 30 jobs.

But, at the town council meeting, eight councillors recommended refusal, with two abstentions, although Allerdale council has the final decision.

Councillor Alan Kennon said: “It provided a good service during the floods and can again in the future in this current climate.

“However, we need to get the shops already in the town up and running and then see how many extra places are needed because there are still places on Main Street that are empty.”

Coun Julie Laidlow said that shops in the town centre should be filled before more outlets were created.

In its planning application, Mitchells said it had looked at a number of empty units in Station Street, Main Street, Market Place, Market Street and Castlegate, but none had the floor space required by the company.

It said it wanted a high quality, modern retail facility that would increase consumer choice, improve the range of facilities and bring investment into the town without having a significant adverse impact on trade or turnover in the town.

John Rockliffe, Mitchells director and head of its land agency, said: “We are disappointed with the decision made by the town council, given that Mitchells, since its inception in 1873, has been a strong supporter of Cockermouth.

“Given the recent assistance it gave to the town following the floods in 2009 we hoped it would be supported.

“There had been objections from various other people who believe it will draw people away from the town centre.

“We will await the decision of Allerdale council when it goes before their committee in June but we will appeal if it is refused.”

Mr Rockliffe said the arcade would be aimed at traders wanting small retail units with a short lease, as they could not afford the high prices and longer leases of units elsewhere.

The building was used after the floods as a temporary base for several town businesses, including Cockermouth Paper Shop, Milburns Solicitors, Cockermouth Travel, The Toy Shop and Allison’s chemist.

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