Waterstones bookshop on Lord Street in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

The Waterstones bookshop building in Southport town centre could be transformed to become a new Lounge restaurant through a £1million investment. 

Loungers UK Limited has submitted a planning application to Sefton Council to convert the Ground, first and second floors of the Grade II Listed building at 367 Lord Street, plus the first floor of 3-9 Nevill Street, into its new use. 

The new development would see around 30 new jobs created. 

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 through two brands, The Lounges and The Cosy Clubs. 

“The Lounges are located in either suburbs or market towns and are run as café / bar / restaurants – offering food from 9am until 10.30pm.

“Alcohol is also available from 10.30am, however it comprises a smaller proportion of total sales than food. 

“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. For example, during the pandemic, a number of Lounge sites opened up to make food packages for local shelters and schools. 

“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. 

“This is in addition to providing the best customer service available; Lounges work through creating the desire for customers to come multiple times per month, as opposed to just a special event.  

Waterstones bookshop on Lord Street in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

Waterstones bookshop on Lord Street in Southport. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

“Leases are for 15 years, so they invest very wisely and in high-quality goods for every one of their sites; they are designed to last. 

“Lounge’s history extends back to 2002, they have only closed six sites in total, the majority of which were legacy sites that were just too small for current offer and customer demand.

“Based on current proposals, the conversion of this property will represent an investment cost of approximately £1million. Thus, not only do Lounges create jobs for their own business, they can assist in creating an employment draw for a much wider area, across both retail and hospitality.”

The application seeks consents for various internal and external alterations including the installation of extraction.

The premises comprise a five storey building although this planning application only comprises the ground, first and second floors.” 

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.

The current application seeks approval of internal works to ‘fit out’ the premises to provide for a bar, kitchen, toilet area including extraction and ventilation. 

The building has been used by Waterstones and has been fitted out previously for that purpose with suspended ceilings etc. All of these will be removed. 

The proposals have been designed to ensure minimum impact on the character of the Listed building. 

D2 Planning insists that the proposal “is designed in a way that would cause the least amount of harm to the character of the building and the extraction would be hidden from public viewpoints”.

They added: “The site lies within the Lord Street Conservation Area and is a Grade II listed building and therefore alongside full planning permission requires Listed Building Consent (LBC). 

“The internal fit out is to enable the building to be used for a Lounge bar. All of the fit out is removable and would not affect the heritage character of the building. Signage would be subject to a separate application. 

“The proposals will also not adversely impact on the character and appearance of the Lord Street Conservation Area.” 

 

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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