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Fresh owners promise new lease of life for historic empty Wisbech shop

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A town centre shop with a rich history dating back to the turn of the last century is to get a new lease of life.

The former Bonmarche store at 9-10 High Street, Wisbech, has been empty since the Yorkshire company which specialises in clothing for the over-50s, closed four years ago.

The premises have bought by Whitfield Portfolio Ltd who will use permitted rights development to transform most of the property to 14 flats, retaining a retail unit at ground floor level.

Fenland District Council says the application fulfils the legislation which allows for the re-development of the site.

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The former Bonmarche store at 9-10 High Street, Wisbech, has been empty since the Yorkshire company which specialises in clothing for the over-50s, closed four years ago.

The former Bonmarche store at 9-10 High Street, Wisbech, has been empty since the Yorkshire company which specialises in clothing for the over-50s, closed four years ago.

Council planners note the building – which is within Wisbech Conservation Area – includeS part of the ground floor of the building being converted for residential use.

“However, this will be limited to the rearmost part of the ground floor, with a retail use retained within the forwardmost part of the ground floor, with the shop front retained,” says the council.

“Thus, the impact of the proposed change of use will have negligible impact on the conservation area.”

The council says some works, including, for example, the proposed creation of a pedestrian access door off High Street to the north east of the existing shop front will require additional permission.

Other external alterations such as the introduction of new external openings, doors and/or windows, will also require additional planning permission.

The former Bonmarche store at 9-10 High Street, Wisbech, has been empty since the Yorkshire company which specialises in clothing for the over-50s, closed four years ago.

The former Bonmarche store at 9-10 High Street, Wisbech, has been empty since the Yorkshire company which specialises in clothing for the over-50s, closed four years ago. Photos show the rear of the premises. 

The council has also put in a condition requiring the development to be completed within a period of 3-years of the date of prior approval having been granted.

The building is on the east side of the pedestrianised High Street, between its junctions with Market Place and Castle Square.

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It has a rich history.

Records show by the time of the 1911 Wisbech Directory, Alfred William May, draper is recorded at no’s 9 and 10.

By 1916 Kellys Directory lists Davison and Sellers, drapers at No. 9 and 10.

Robert J Glass ran a house furnishers in the 1930s and from the 1950s to the 1970s Bainbridges Department Store was located at 9 and 10.

In 1954 Bainbridges applied to change their shopfront, presumably removing the original early 20th century one, replacing it with modern materials including stainless steel and vitrolite.

By the 1980s it had become Thoms Superstore. More recently during the late 1980s and the early 2000s the shop was a Pound Stretcher.

Bon Marche then moved in.

“Internally, the upper floor still retains its historic character,” says the High Street, Wisbech, project website.

You can read more about these premises and other work being carried out in Wisbech by clicking the link below:

https://www.highstreetwisbech.org.uk/

FOOTNOTE: Permitted development rights are subject to conditions set by legislation to ensure that only appropriate proposals are eligible. The need to apply to the Local Planning Authority to see if prior approval is required is one such condition.

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