Former M&Co store in Berkhamsted could become offices and restaurant

The application covers changes between 212-220 High Street

By Matthew Smith, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 24th January 2022, 3:34 pm

A Berkhamsted department store could be replaced with a new restaurant and offices, according plans submitted to the borough council.

Make Believe Ideas have submitted an application to convert the former M&Co store in Berkhamsted High Street, which will see the unit divided into two smaller units on the ground floor and separate office space upstairs.

The application, which appeared on Dacorum Borough Council’s planning portal on January 17, covers changes between 212-220 High Street.

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The site, which sits inside the town’s Conservation Area and includes a Grade II listed building at 216 High Street, has stood vacant in the town centre since July 2021 after the closure of the M&Co store.

The plans will see 216-214 remain linked as a restaurant, while 218-220 will be split to operate as a retail unit.

Offices will then take over the space on the first, second and third floors of the building, which had previously been used for retail storage and staff facilities.

The material changes made include a new door installed facing the High Street, new waist-level signage and the replacement of windows and chimney.

To the rear of the building, a new timber pergola will be erected as parts of plans to create a roof terrace adjoining the offices.

The application also outlines a proposal to extend the existing ground floor unit to make space for a new restaurant, but this will be subject to a separate planning application.

The proposals also do not outline which businesses may move into the new units, and changes to the signage above the retail units will need to be approved separately.

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Make Believe Ideas currently operate a children’s café and head office in The Wildnerness, Berkhamsted.

A planning statement also confirms a separate Grade II listed outbuilding will not be involved in any changes to the building, while the changes to 216 High Street will be to the flat roof which “is not of any historic interest”.

The applicant concludes, “the premises are in a poor state of repair and the proposed external works would facilitate the viable use of the upper floors as an office, which would ensure its long term conservation” and by bringing the building into effective use the plans are policy-compliant.

Consultation on Dacorum Borough Council’s planning portal (Ref:21/04787/FUL) is available until February 16.