WORK has finally begun on transforming the former House of Fraser building in Cirencester into a community hub. 

Scaffolding outside the former retail space at 29 - 35 Market Place indicates that builders have started work to replace the glazed shopfront window after an application for the first stage of work was approved in November.

The building has been empty since House of Fraser closed in January 2019 but has been acquired by the Grace Network - a new organisation which takes over large buildings and moves in social enterprises.

This Cirencester Grace Network Hub project is being spearheaded by Tom Herbert who is one of the founders of community interest company The Long Table.

The Grace Network's website says: "We run social enterprises where profits are reinvested into the local community through higher pay, community events and giving away free goods. 

"Our local hubs create safe spaces for real human connection.

"People can thrive, better futures are formed and ideas become a new and exciting reality."

Permission has also be granted to demolish the existing internal fittings and partitions inside the building.

Plans to replace the existing concrete roof tiles with blue slate have also been permitted. 

Fresh plans for a new kitchen, toilets and extract vent on the ground floor have also recently been submitted to the planning authority.  

CDC issued the following pre-application advice regarding these new internal proposals: “The installation of the commercial kitchen and toilets would support bringing the disused building back into use and this is considered to represent a public benefit. 

"They would be located in the 20th century rear extension and are unlikely to harm the significance of the listed building, and are therefore likely to be supported."

One of the proposed toilets is a Changing Places facility which would provide sanitary facilities for people with multiple and complex disabilities who need to be accompanied by assistants.

The application seeks to create partitions to form a kitchen with an open central section to allow for a serving hatch around its perimeter.

The planning statement conclusion states: "The internal proposals are contained to the modern rear extension and as such will not involve any alteration to any historic fabric or historic spaces within the wider building.

"The proposals are not considered to have any impact on the significance of the listed building and will beneficially facilitate bringing the building back into use, ensuring that it is maintained and occupied in a use consistent with its conservation."

The Grace Network is still awaiting a decision on the kitchen plans and the deadline for comments on this application is Tuesday, March 5.

To review the most recent application visit