THE owners of a Shoebury shop converted into a home are set to be ordered to return it back to its original use after carrying out work without permission.

Southend Council is preparing to take action against the owners of 71 West Road, Shoebury, after complaints over the work back in 2020.

The site is part of a parade of shops and the council recently took action against a neighbouring shop, at 69 West Road, which had also been converted into a home without permission.

Anne Jones [pictured inset], councillor responsible for planning and housing said people need to be aware they have to apply for change of use to turn a shop into a home.

She said: “If a property has already had planning to be turned into a shop then permitted development doesn’t exist, so it has to go through a planning permission process. You can’t just turn a shop into a home.

“Commercial properties do not have permitted development rights and leasehold properties don’t have permitted development rights.”

In July 2021, a letter was sent to the owner inviting submission of a retrospective planning application to retain but there was no response.

Additional correspondence was sent in July 2022 to attempt to resolve the issue but again the council was ignored.

Following subsequent visits to the site, it became apparent to officers that a change of use of the property, from commercial to residential was well underway following changes to the shopfront. The council advised the occupant the work was unlawful and ordered the shop front to be turned back to its original appearance.

With no response again, the council has been left with no option but to call for enforcement action.

A report to the committee said: “Taking the above analysis into account, it is considered that the unauthorised development is detrimental to the sustainability of a key shopping area.

“The development is therefore unacceptable and contrary to local and national policies in this regard.

“It is considered that the residential unit would in all probability fail to meet the overall minimum space standards for a one-bed home.”