Plans to build flats above high street shops are in the balance after councillors called for an investigation of potential overshadowing issues.

Councillors reviewed plans to build an additional floor atop of Carers Choice and Co-operative Funeral Care in High Street, Wickford, at a planning meeting last night (July 21).

The building is currently two-stories high, with two one-bedroom flats above the shops. The plans would see an additional story built, raising the building to three-stories, for two further one-bedroom flats.

The proposals had been recommended for approval, but testimony provided by a member of the public, who said his property next door would be blocked from sunlight by the development, convinced committee members to defer its decision on the application.

The council will now move to review evidence of potential overshadowing issues before returning to make a final decision.

The building, which dates back to the 1930s originally boasted Art Deco style architectural detailing, which has since been lost; the developers, if given the green light, have pledged to replicate the original 1930s detailing.

Essex County Council Highways and Transportation offered no objection to the plans, despite the lack of provision of new parking spaces. The building is currently served by two private parking spaces at the rear.

The highways authority noted lack of parking provision was acceptable due to the flats location in an urban area “with good access to alternative forms of transport”.

Cllr Craig Rimmer raised concerns the new flats would be hard to access for people with disabilities as access to both the proposed flats and the existing flats is via a staircase at the rear.

The council received seven letters of objection from neighbours and residents who raised concerns ranging from a loss of light and privacy for surrounding properties and insufficient parking and access.

Cllr Phil Turner said he felt the development was a “missed opportunity” to enhance the high street.

“When a developer comes forward, we should be looking to improve what is there already. To me, that scheme does not improve the high street for Wickford residents,” he added.