A ROW has broken out over plans to knock down a former bike shop to build eight flats.

Darren Moxey has applied for planning permission to replace the Dirt Bike Store in Bath Road, Bridgwater, with a three-storey residential building.

In a supporting statement given to Sedgemoor District Council, which will decide on the project, chartered surveyors Tamlyns say there have been a number of short-term tenancies since the bike shop closed in 2008, but that finding a tenant or purchaser is an “impossible task” in the economic climate.

They say it would require “significant financial input” to bring the building up to scratch for commercial use, and that “this part of Bridgwater cannot be classed as a recognised viable commercial area.”

Tamlyns add: “We believe it is fair to say that this area could benefit from a programme of regeneration and this proposal could be the catalyst for neighbouring owners to improve the appearance of their buildings.”

However, in a letter to Sedgemoor District Council, Andy Day, managing director of International Tiles, based next to the Dirt Bike Store, said it was “laughable” to suggest it was not a “viable commercial area”.

He wrote: “The site is surrounded on all sides by businesses.

“We have been tenants at 83-89 Bath Road on a similar footprint to the proposed site and have traded successfully for the last 12 years.”

He added: “The premise that by granting this development permission we would be urged somehow to up our game and improve the appearance of our building is insulting.”

In another letter to the council, a resident of Bath Road raised concerns about whether tenants of the flats reversing out of the proposed carports and crossing the pavement to access the narrow highway would be able to see pedestrians.

James Venton, from Tamlyns, told the Mercury the plans had been altered earlier this year to address concerns from the highways authority.

He acknowledged the project had attracted opposition, but added: “I don't think anybody can argue that this is not going to improve the visual appearance of the area.”