A Morecambe businesswoman said her venture has been put under threat after the city council told her to remove security shutters from the property.
Sabe Connor took over the premises in West End Road a few years ago and has since turned the derelict property into a recruitment business, Holywell Recruitment Ltd.
However, she has now received a letter from Lancaster City Council saying the shutters she had installed after advice from a security expert have “a negative impact on the Conservation Area”.
Mrs Connor said she has been praised by fellow business owners along the street for helping to improve the area, yet been criticised by the council. She said other shops along the same street have the same shutters which she paid for following advice from a local expert.
She said: “I showed my planning conditions to the shutter installers who said there were more secure shutters used by other people in the area because the ‘letterbox’ style shutters the council recommends are too easy for thieves to get past.
“Other businesses have said they are pleased the shop is no longer empty. It was boarded up for many years and we have spent a lot of money gutting it and putting modern equipment in.
“If it’s broken into it will increase the insurance; I am just trying to protect my busienss. It’s very frustrating. I can’t see how the business can continue to run without proper security in place.
“I am giving local people the opportunity to manage their own business and providing local jobs for young people. We want the area to look nice but it has to be safe.
“I can see where they are coming from but there’s a reason why other shops in the area have these shutters.”
A city council spokesman said: “Our planning and conservation officers are aware of this case which has been ongoing since 2016 when Mrs Connor applied for permission to install a roller shutter at her property. This was granted approval being the design and type acceptable for use in this conservation area of Morecambe.
“However, Mrs Connor did not install the type of roller shutter box as approved and another type was installed without authorisation. A retrospective application for the retention of this unauthorised roller shutter was submitted and refused due to the negative impact on the Conservation Area.
“The applicant appealed the decision in October this year. This was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate when the inspector noted ‘there is no evidence to demonstrate that the appellant sought additional advice from suppliers, other than those who installed the shutter, about whether the previously approved scheme or something similar could be provided. Therefore it has not been demonstrated that the appeal scheme is the only means by which the desired security could be provided.’
“As such, the council had no other option than to serve a notice for its removal.
“Mrs Connor has been advised that the original planning permission is valid for 3 years and the works to instal the original design of shutter can still be carried out until September 2019.”