Residents raise concerns over development plans for Nargis Tandoori

RESIDENTS living and working near a former Indian restaurant have voiced their concerns about plans to turn it into flats and retail units.

A pre planning application has been submitted to convert the Nargis Tandoori in Nelson Street, which closed last year, into a mixed use development.

Plans include the creation of four commercial food and retail units at street level and eight flats above.

However some people living and working nearby have raised concerns about the impact of the plans.

Following a public community consultation about the proposed development, held on September 21, residents have outlined several key issues.

Spokeswoman for the group, Sarah Qua-Jones said that several people questioned the need for new retail/food outlets on Nelson Street, when there were empty shops in the High Street and town.

Others had stressed that existing problems with congestion would only be exacerbated by the increased use the development would bring.

One resident said: “Nelson Street is already overcrowded, often dangerously so, with pedestrians, including children and private and commercial traffic. The proposed development would bring more vehicles and more pedestrians.”

Parking in the vicinity was cited as a major issue, with residents commenting that the area could not afford to lose seven car parking spaces from the Parliament Street car park.

Ms Qua Jones also said that the type of housing offered in the development – eight one bedroom flats – was thought to be inappropriate.

“Some residents have said there is greater need for affordable housing for families in the area, rather than individual flats,” she said.

There were also concerns that the proposed new buildings would be overbearing and block the light from the properties opposite.

The SNJ took these concerns to Stroud based Vision Mill Architects, who have been creating designs for the site.

Managing director Nick Mills said: “Our client believes that there is a demand for a hot food take away in this part of town, which would be their own unit. The other units would be a cafe/restaurant, a drinking establishment and an off licence shop.”

Mr Mills said that the current amount of empty shops in the High Street had more to do with the Covid pandemic rather than a lack of demand.

“In time, these will all have new tenants as the economy continues to recover,” he said.

“The retail units that are still open in the town centre are thriving and creating a strong and vibrant town centre. The proposed development would do the same for Nelson Street.”

With regards to congestion in the area, Mr Mills said: “The proposed buildings have been set back to provide a wider footpath along Nelson Street – where currently there is not one – which would have bollards provided on the kerbside to prevent vehicles from parking in the street and causing congestion.

“Anyone who wants to use the retail units would be able to park in Parliament Street car park, use the steps at the side of the building from the car park and purchase goods from them, without having to park in Nelson Street.

“The loss of seven car parking spaces from Parliament Street car park will be dealt with under the the Stroud Town Centre car park survey, which is likely to show that there are sufficient car parking spaces available in the under-utilised multi-storey car park in London Road.”

However, Ms Qua Jones said that the multi storey wasn’t suitable for all drivers needs.

“For example, farmers’ market traders with large vans often can’t park in the multi-storey because even if the height of their vehicles fits, there isn’t enough turning circle space for them.

“Also, people who want to use businesses and facilities in and around Nelson Street want to park in the Parliament Street car park, as it is the most convenient location.”

In response to comments that affordable housing for families would be preferable to individual flats, Mr Mills said that the plot was too small for family housing.

“The proposed site would not be suitable for family housing as it is not big enough.

“One bedroom flats would provide suitable accommodation for single people or couples to live in Stroud at affordable rents.”

Mr Mills said that he did not believe the development would block the light from the properties opposite, but that a shadow study would be undertaken.

“The proposed development is on the north side of the street so there is unlikely to be any significant overshadowing of the existing buildings in Nelson Street. A shadow study will be carried out to demonstrate this,” he said.

He also said he thought the buildings would not be overbearing, but that it would perhaps be possible to change the designs to ensure that didn’t happen.

“It may be possible to change the designs to some extent – by moving the street facade slightly further back and reducing the height of the buildings by a small amount – if immediate neighbours feel that this would improve the situation,” he said.

The plans are at the pre-application stage, and would have to go through SDC’s planning system before going ahead.

To view the plans see: bit.ly/3FGoozV

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