Daunt Books Chelsea could be turfed out of its home on Fulham Road after plans to redevelop the building block have been approved, despite more than 140 objections.
An appeal against landlord Imperial Tobacco Trustee’s plans to overhaul the 1970s building was refused by Kensington and Chelsea Council, despite objections from locals, including Scottish comedian Rory Bremner, who said: “To close a unique and individual bookshop in favour of another chain restaurant in an area already full of restaurants... is very unwelcome.”
Imperial Tobacco is now free to press ahead with plans to install a branch of Cote Brasserie in a large ground-floor site, cutting the number of shop units from three to one. It also plans to extend the building outwards, to bring it in line with the rest of the street frontage, and upwards, to create more office space.
Daunt Books has been trading on the site of the 1970s building on Fulham Road, Chelsea, for 11 years. It was formerly the Pan Bookshop. It is thought the existing bookshop would be forced to move for a period of at least 12 months, and would have a "right to return" but be left with a smaller floorspace and frontage.
Giving his decision to reject the appeal, inspector David Cliff said the overall harm to the retailer character of the district centre would be “modest”.
“I have found that the proposal would be in general accordance with the aim…to secure the success and vitality of the district centre,” he said.
James Daunt, who owns the nine-branch Daunt Books chain, told The Bookseller the building was “decrepit” and “needed to be overhauled”.
“The planning application process has been going on now for years, but the reality is we will have to close that store at some point. Luckily the Daunt Books chain is big enough that going down to eight stores isn’t going to be a huge issues for us, it would be much worse if it was one shops and someone’s whole livelihood,” he said. However, he said he didn’t expect to be moving too quickly. “These things can take years and years – I think this application has been going on for four years at least already.”
He added that it would be disappinting for locals for the shop to move out of its home, but added: "The Chelsea community is changing rapidly all the time."
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