06:00 Thursday 16 January 2014

Another opticians is 'last thing' Ely needs

Written byJORDAN DAY

The former Starbucks premises in Ely High Street. The former Starbucks premises in Ely High Street.

Plans to open a new opticians next door to an existing one in Ely have been slammed as “ludicrous” by residents.

Local people say another opticians is the “last thing” the city needs - especially adjacent to Specsavers in the High Street.

As previously reported, bosses at Boots Opticians have applied for planning permission to take over the former Starbucks premises on the corner of High Street.

The building, which has stood empty for around 18 months, is located right next door to Specsavers.

Boots have applied to East Cambridgeshire District Council to erect new signage at the site, as well as carry out internal and external alterations to turn it into a Boots Opticians.

Juliette Ausden, of Fieldside, Ely, said: “Yet again plans are submitted for something which Ely really doesn’t need.

“We have plenty of opticians in the city centre and for Boots to want to open one right next door to Specsavers is ludicrous.

“The building in question is large and is in a prime spot in the High Street - why can’t we have something exciting like a new clothes boutique or a wine bar?”

Joe Blackley, of Longchamp Drive, added: “An opticians is the last thing we need.

“All Ely ever gets is charity shops, estate agents, cafes or opticians - when are we going to get something different or, dare I say it, exciting?

“I can’t imagine Specsavers are too happy about the plans either - opening next door to them seems unfair.”

Neither Specsavers nor Boots were willing to comment on the proposals but in a statement to the council, Boots’ agents, Lewis and Hickey, said: “The proposed site is within the main retail area of Ely.

“The existing unit is Grade II listed and in the conservation area of Ely.

“As a responsible retailer, Boots UK understands the requirement to preserve the building and any alterations to the building must be suited to the building and its surroundings.”

They say renovating the premises into an opticians would complement the services Boots offers from its existing store in Ely’s Market Place.

The final decision lies with the district council. To have your say, visit www.eastcambs.gov.uk.

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