THE transformation of a former Lloyds Bank on Sandown High Street into a family home has been refused.

The Isle of Wight Council's planning committee shared officers' concerns last night (Tuesday) that the change of use would interrupt the flow of the High Street and remove a commercial property.

In a report put before the committee, officers said it would be an 'undesirable change' and highlighted the scheme had already been refused by the planning authority once before.

Local ward representatives Cllrs Debbie Andre and Ian Ward were both supportive of the application however, saying Sandown was in need of regeneration and the High Street was a key component.

Cllr Andre said the property had been closed for over five years and had started to deteriorate and decline before the owners enhanced the existing street scene with window displays appreciated by local residents.

Arguing against the officers' reasons for refusal, Cllr Andre said it was a sympathetic restoration to be occupied by a family, not a commercial development. 

The application was also supported by committee member Cllr Vanessa Churchman who said the High Street was looking run down but the former bank was probably one of the nicest buildings.

She said she felt the committee was splitting hairs because it was prepared to approve development on greenfield sites, due to the Island's desperate housing need, but willing to say no to this application.

Cllr Churchman tried to overturn the recommendation but received no support from fellow committee members.

The refusal of planning permission was granted by the seven other committee members who suggested the applicants, Mr and Mrs Conkleton, bring back the scheme but keeping the ground floor as a retail unit and converting the upper floors into residential use.

The council, as described in its own planning policies tries to preserve commercial units in town centres.

Cllr Matt Price said once the retail space is gone you have lost it for good and pointed out by preserving the ground floor commercial space it would make business rates cheaper, meaning it would be more viable to keep a shop open while adding to the housing stock on the Island.