Ambitions to start a new chapter at the former Southport Visiter newspaper and website office in Southport town centre have suffered a setback.
Sefton Council’s Planning department has refused permission for a prior notification application to convert part of the ground floor, plus the first and second floors into 26 self contained flats.
Permission has already been granted to transform part of the ground floor into three new commercial / retail units.
Sefton’s Planning team has raised concerns about potential contamination on the site from its years spent printing newspapers, and wants further investigations to take place before planning permission is granted.
A Sefton Council planning report says: “A review of the historical mapping identifies the site has a long history of being occupied by a printing works and there is the potential for contamination to have occurred on site.
“Potential sources of off site contamination include the former toy factory and railway land.
“The proposed change of use from commercial to residential introduces a high sensitivity land use when considering the potential for contamination to be present.
“Due to the sensitivity of the proposed change of use (residential) and potential contamination issues associated with the site, it is necessary that a preliminary investigation must be prepared in accordance with best practice and current guidance.”
No objections to the scheme were received from neighbouring residents or businesses.
Wallford Ltd in Middleton submitted a planning application to Sefton Council, prepared by
Gold Sketch Studios LTD, for the scheme.
In their application, they said: “The rejuvenation of a derelict and vandalised property brings new life and vitality to the surrounding area, particularly through the creation of new shops and job opportunities.”
The building was home to the Southport Visiter series of newspapers and websites for over 100 years before it was closed in 2016.
The Southport Visiter website and the free Midweek Visiter website have subsequently been closed, while the paid-for Southport Visiter – which has been published since 1844 – remains on sale every Thursday.
Despite its history, the building is not Listed and is a “non-designated heritage asset”.
The site has been frequently vandalised since its closure seven years ago.
In its application, Gold Sketch Studios LTD on behalf of Wallford Ltd said: “The proposal at 26-32 Tulketh Street will be in keeping with the local area and have a minimal visual impact on the heritage asset and the surrounding area.
“Consideration is given to the historical value of the building and its architectural features.
“The goal is to achieve a design that respects the building’s history while enhancing its functionality and aesthetic appeal
“The rejuvenation of a derelict and vandalised property brings new life and vitality to the surrounding area, particularly through the creation of new shops and job opportunities.
“The transformation of the property from a neglected state to a thriving commercial space contributes to the overall improvement of the neighbourhood.”
Wallford Ltd can appeal the decision at any time within the next six months.