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Issue 310 – A slippery slope for Catherine Hill?

CONCERNS have been raised after an estate agent applied for a change of use for a premises in Catherine Hill. Other traders fear that a permanent change would affect the unique character of the hill.

If the planning permission is successful then the premises will change from an A1 listed premises which is for use of retail and the sale of goods other than hot food, to an A2 listed premises which is for the provision of financial and professional services.
Maggy and Charles Daniell of MC2 said, “Catherine Hill has its own type of business that attracts customers from miles around. It is popular because of its fashionable and arty atmosphere. The shops are small and independent, each offering something unique. The businesses feed off each other and there is a real sense of all businesses pulling together.
“If one business changes its type of premises then it could open a floodgate for other businesses within the financial sector to look towards the hill. In the long term this will sap the identity of Catherine Hill and it could be lost altogether.”
The steep, cobbled street of Catherine Hill is lined with small independent shops selling everything from lingerie to designer jewellery to fashion and flowers. Catherine Hill is also the focus of events in the town such as the very popular Cobble Wobble and street fairs, which pull in visitors to Frome.
Another retailer on Catherine Hill who chose to remain anonymous said, “It’s not right. All the shops give a little something different. All the owners have worked so hard to make Catherine Hill a unique trading little paradise. There is such a sense of comradery here, we do not need anything alien to spoil the bohemian ethos.
“When I first heard of the change of use to the premises, I was so surprised. My initial reaction was ‘they aren’t allowed to do that.’ Once we have lost one shop we lose the next one and the next one, then Catherine Hill will lose everything that makes it unique.”

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