Nandos, Starbucks and a dessert bar have been lined up as tenants for a new development in Brighton’s London Road.
The three eateries have been revealed in a planning application which seeks to amend the layout and usage for new student block Pavilion Point.
The five-storey building replaced the former Boots and Co-op supermarket at 118-132 London Road, and was originally designed with two retail units on the ground floor.
The smaller one next to Oxford Street has been taken by the Co-Op, but the larger unit has proved more tricky to let.
Now, developer Curlew Opportunities has applied to Brighton and Hove City Council for permission to split it into three smaller units.
Curlew is now seeking to alter the shopfronts to create new entrances, and to change the usage class to E, which would allow the units to be used for retail, restaurants, banks or a range of other commercial uses.
The application says: “The proposed works are acceptable as they will attract inwards investment into the city – creating new jobs and adding to the vitality of the London Road shopping centre.
“The premises have been subject to over one year of marketing, with only the three proposed occupiers wanting to take space within the building and being legally acceptable with regard to restrictions imposed by Co-Op (already occupiers of the site) to ensure a variety of tenants within the site.
“The uses are compatible with the student housing located above the ground floor units, and planning conditions can be imposed on operating hours and extraction equipment to ensure no harm to students residing above.”
A letter from estate agent Josh Braid at Knight Frank said: “Knight Frank commenced marketing of the retail space at London Road in March 2021 at the end of the first lockdown due to Covid-19.
“KF received a wide range of interest from both from local and national operators. However the total space of 7,800 sq ft proved too great a space for one occupier to take in this location.
“As a result of this marketing feedback both KF and the landlord looked at letting the space on a split basis for two to three occupiers.
“The agreed transaction with Co-op at London Road prior to the marketing of the retail space resulted in an exclusivity being agreed in the lease to preventing a range of competing A1 food offers.
“As a consequence, the landlord was restricted in being able to lease the remaining space to a range of competing operators such as convenience food, frozen food, speciality food or an off licence.
“From KF marketing throughout 2021, interest came through from a range of occupiers that the lease to Coop would not allow for, the interest ranged from national operators like Amazon Fresh, Sainsburys Local, Tesco Express, Iceland, Cook to Brighton based speciality food occupier Taj and Infinity Foods.
“From the marketing throughout 2021 there was a limit to A1 retail operators looking at the vacant space due to the economic uncertainty of Covid-19 in the retail sector.
“Those occupiers that did show considered interest included Balfes Bikes, British Heart fountain, Weatherspoon’s and Savers for varying levels of space within the development.
“However, more of the interest came from A3 operators to A1 grab and go food-based operators due to its proximity to similar food offers at this end of London Road.
“KF received credible offers from three A1/A3 food operators which included Starbucks, Heavenly Desserts and Nando’s.
“These operators are looking on average to invest over £350,000 on fitting out their stores and without these occupiers these units would largely remain vacant and only add to the number of inactive frontages and vacant units along London Road.
“London Road has seen an increase of vacant stores over recent years due in part to the retail economy being impacted with fundamental changes such as shopping habits and more recently the impact Covid-19 has had on the retail sector.
“Therefore, it is encouraging to see national occupiers looking to invest in this part of London Road which we believe will lead to other operators looking to follow.”
The application argues that as both Starbucks and the third tenant Heavenly Desserts will also be part retail this means that with the Co-Op taking what would be the fourth unit, the building would still be about half retail.
If successful, Starbucks would have 157 sq m, Heavenly Desserts 153 sq m and Nando’s 338 sq m.
A new extractor flue would be required for Nando’s, which also forms part of the application.