COUNCILLORS have rebelled against officers’ advice and turned down plans to increase flat space in a historic Eton building.

A majority of members on the Windsor and Ascot development management panel decided to side with objectors and refuse amended plans for a developer to partly convert the ground floor of a grade II listed building in 109 High Street, Eton, from commercial to residential.

The building already has two flats, but the applicant wanted to increase that space so both accommodations have three bedrooms by reconfiguring the internal layout.

This will require the downsizing of the ground-floor commercial space to 66sqm. The vacant block was used as a photography studio by Venture Photography.

Royal Borough Observer: The building pictured in June 2009The building pictured in June 2009

The developer obtained planning permission in 2017 to demolish the building’s single-storey extension and single-storey structure to extend the site to the southwest.

Planning officers were minded to approve the plans, but Cllr Samantha Rayner (Con: Eton & Castle) ‘called in’ this application for members to consider.

Speaking at the meeting on Wednesday, January 5, Cllr Rayner feared reducing the retail space could have a “detrimental effect” on the economic viability of Eton High Street.

Objectors also spoke that the plans go against the Eton and Eton Wick neighbourhood plan, which applies a vision and a set of policies that protect the village’s characteristics and street scene when it comes to planning applications.

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Eton town councillor Malcolm Leech said: “This neighbourhood plan is what the electorate of Eton wanted, and we, Eton town councillors, and you, the borough councillors, should be mindful of the people we represent.

“I would be wrong the very councillors who supported the neighbourhood plan such a short time ago to ignore the important opportunity to retain the retail element of this historic and iconic High Street.”

But planning officers still maintained their stance that the plans should be approved, believing the retention of the reduced commercial element is “sufficient” enough to maintain the viability of Eton High Street.

The agent, Dan Lewandowski, there was “no intention” to remove the commercial space from the building and a “well established” kitchen company has “shown interest” to place a showroom in the vacant space.

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He also said the listed building will be upgraded and restored to its former glory.

A motion brought forward by Independent councillor Neil Knowles (Old Windsor) to approve the plans was defeated.

Cllr John Bowden (Con: Eton & Castle) placed a motion to refuse the plans, believing the commercial sector of the building and Eton High Street should be retained and supported.

This was passed with five members voting for refusal and four against.