The Chase menswear store on Chapel Street in Southport

New residential apartments above a shop on Chapel Street in Southport town centre could get the go-ahead next week. 

Three flats are being earmarked in the first, second and third floors above the Chase menswear shop at 55 Chapel Street. 

The application will be decided at Sefton Council’s Planning Committee on Wednesday, with Sefton Council Chief Planning Officer Derek Mckenzie recommending councillors to approve the scheme. 

It is part of a growing trend to provide new homes, hotel rooms and apart hotel rooms in the upper floors above businesses in Southport town centre. 

Earlier this year planning permission was granted on a scheme to create 30 new aparthotel rooms in the upper three floors of the former BHS department store on Chapel Street. 

In his report to councillors, Mr McKenzie said: “With the retention of the ground-floor retail use and given the upper floors have been vacant for some time, it is considered that the proposal will make a positive contribution to the vitality of Southport Town Centre. 

“The use of the upper floors will also support the Lord Street Conservation Area by aiding the longevity of this NonDesignated Heritage Asset. 

“Two of the flats will not be provided with any private outdoor amenity space, contrary to the Council’s guidance, but it is considered that the benefits arising from the proposal outweigh this harm.” 

The scheme aims to create 2 one-bed apartments and 1 two-bed apartment.

In the application, architects Designworks said: “The building is situated on a pedestrianised shopping street in the heart of the town centre and has been used for a number of years as a retail shopping outlet, most recently as a branch of Chase and Wallis selling clothes and shoes.

“The ground floor opens directly to Chapel Street with display windows on each side and a public stair providing direct access to a first floor retail showroom above. 

“The second floor was used for storage with a large open plan area designated for racking but also consisting of an office, staff rest room and toilet accommodation. 

“The upper floor has a smaller footprint and was also utilised as an office and storage area. A small roof terrace provides access to the original loft space of the building. 

“The planning application seeks to retain the ground floor retail and active shop frontage. The three upper floors are intended to be converted to new residential accommodation consisting of a single apartment to each floor. 

“We believe the building to have been constructed in the 1930s with the front elevations designed in a mock Tudor style.

“In general the repairs and redecoration of the facades and the leaking flat roof that is causing internal water damage will be welcome and will help to preserve the building long term. The proposed residential use of the upper floors is also considered to be a sustainable use that will help to preserve the building. 

“The existing building has been offered for rent for a long period but there has been no interest in the upper floors for retail or commercial purposes. The top floor has been vacant for over a decade and the first and second floor have not been used for approximately 5 years. “Conversion to residential is considered the most appropriate use of the upper floors in order to extend the longevity of the building.

“Provision of outdoor external space for each apartment is difficult to achieve with the building which is within the main retail area and is tight to the pavement so includes no external space at ground floor level other than the very small external yard that is being proposed for the storage of bins and cycles.

“Whilst the lack of outdoor space is not ideal this is compensated for in the quality and size of the internal floor spaces on the intermediate floors that significantly exceeds the minimum space standards and make the apartments highly desirable. 

“There are no designated car park spaces at present and none are proposed. The town centre location close to bus routes and immediately opposite the train station justify the lack of parking.”

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