Council mourns loss of butcher's shop

PUBLISHED: 20:32 09 September 2008 | UPDATED: 22:17 15 June 2010

INCREASED competition from supermarkets and the credit crunch are to blame for the closure of Hook's butcher's shop in Honiton.

INCREASED competition from supermarkets and the credit crunch are to blame for the closure of Hook's butcher's shop in Honiton.That's what town councillors heard when they were asked to consider a planning application to change the use of the shop, at 181 High Street, to three residential apartments.Councillor Michael Teare, chairman of Honiton Town Council's planning committee, said a supporting statement from the applicant, Mr R Hughes, explained it was no longer viable to keep the business open. He is seeking permission to reinstate the building to its pre-1970s existence as a residential property.Formery mayor Councillor Vernon Whitlock said: "I sympathise with his position, but we will be losing a shop front. One of the concerns raised by traders at a recent public meeting was how to encourage shoppers to use both ends of the High Street. It's a chicken and egg situation."I don't think we want to lose any more shops. One of the things we've said in our town plan is that we want to keep our uniqueness - the shops."Councillor Teare pointed out the shop is not situated in Honiton's prime retail area, which doesn't even include Lace Walk."Mr Hughes is saying the baker's has gone and the greengrocer's has gone," he said.Councillor Sharon Holloway said the apartments may offer an affordable housing benefit.But Councillor Martin McGuire was concerned about parking. "That area is saturated with vehicles. Once the shop's gone, it's gone."Councillor Sally Casson said: "It's quite an attractive building. I feel very sorry for Mr Hughes."Vice chairman of the planning committee, Councillor Ron Farnham said: "If we recommend this, it is not giving any support to the other shopkeepers."Councillors accepted Mr Hughes was attempting to retain historical features and that a long-term empty shop in the High Street would be bad news for Honiton."In the current economic climate, I can't see anyone taking it on as a retail unit," said Councillor Peter Fleming.The committee recommended Mr Hughes' application for approval, but stressed they would want to see a retail frontage retained in liaison with East Devon's conservation officer.Planning officials at Knowle are to be referred to the council's adopted town plan.

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