Proposals to open a new Occulo Lounge café bar on Lord Street in Southport. Creating 30 new jobs, have been approved by Sefton Council. 

The new venture, operated by Loungers UK Ltd, will open on the corner of Lord Street and Nevill Street, in the building previously occupied by Waterstones bookshop. 

Waterstones relocated to its new home on Chapel Street in August. 

Loungers UK will now invest £1 million in transforming the historic three-storey building, which was constructed in 1925-7. 

It would open seven days a week, with proposals to open at 8am and close half an hour past midnight. 

It is another boost for a growingly popular Lord Street, which saw the first two phases of The Grand opening earlier this year. Building work is currently taking place to transform the former Garrick Theatre, while a new Wetherspoon Hotel is due to open in Pavilion Buildings. 

In his report to Sefton councillor, Chief Planning Office Derek McKenzie said: “The proposal is acceptable in principle and will not cause any harm to the living conditions of nearby residential properties.  The proposal will preserve the historic fabric and features of the Listed Building and will preserve the character and appearance of the Lord Street Conservation Area.  The proposal will not result in any highway safety issues.

“The proposal therefore complies with local policies and is recommended for approval subject to conditions.

“The proposed operating hours of the premises would be 8am-12.30am Monday – Sunday, given the town centre location these proposed hours are considered to be acceptable.  These hours can be secured by condition.”

Loungers UK Ltd says that it “operates from many listed buildings throughout the country and so is well aware of the requirements to retain as much of the historic fabric as possible”.

The firm says it intends to invest £1 million in the building’s transformation, with the creation of 30 new jobs. 

Occulo means ‘relating to the eye or the sense of vision’. 

The Design, Access and Heritage Statement for the scheme has been prepared by D2 Planning, which said: “Loungers UK Limited operates over 190 sites across the country. 

“The Lounges are all uniquely designed, with an emphasis on creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for families (as well as four legged friends). 

“The aim of every Lounge is to tie in with local customers, so that they can make of the Lounge what they will; whether a customer wants to come in for a coffee after dropping children to school, a working lunch, or a tipple after work, Lounges can provide an environment for all these purposes. 

“As well as these everyday activities, each site will be tied in with local charities and initiatives. “Also, they will run reading groups, young mum’s support groups, Christmas initiatives as well as a number of others. 

“Each new site will generate in the region of 30 new jobs for the local community across a variety of roles – from leadership positions to front of house staff. These staff will also have available to them a very high standard of training with regards to health and safety, licensing etc which will help prepare them for other positions in the future.”

The landmark building, on the corner of Lord Street and Nevill Street, is a former bank – one of a number of very grand bank buildings which once dominated Lord Street. 

It was constructed in 1925-7 and was designed by Palmer & Holden, in association with Finchett, Lancaster & Archer of London.

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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