Revamp of historic Lowestoft Post Office agreed
- Credit: Archant
Plans to give Lowestoft's historic former Post Office a new lease of life have been approved, with nine new homes set to be built behind it.
East Suffolk Council bought the Grade II Listed Post Office in London Road North in 2018, and submitted plans to bring the ailing façade back to life, complete a revamp inside for a new commercial business tenant, and demolish buildings to the rear.
Those buildings at the rear, which do not have Historic England listing, will make way for nine new affordable homes - five town houses and four in flats, as well as an extension to the listed building part itself.
The council's planning north committee on Tuesday afternoon unanimously agreed to grant planning permission.
Councillor Craig Rivett said: "This is an incredibly sustainable location in the high street.
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"We have an opportunity to give this building a future, and you protect a building by giving it a future.
"We have seen there has been a lack of interest in using the building in its current guise, so let's give that building a future and not ossify it to the past."
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According to the council, many tenants cannot afford the significant repair works inside to justify the move there, which means the internal revamp will be more attractive to potential new occupiers.
However, Lowestoft Town Council urged refusal of the plans, claiming more information came to light last year.
Andrew Pearce from the town council said: "The town council does not support the design of the new extension and would wish to secure a high level of design for this heritage building."
Mr Pearce said the council believed there were "factual errors" in the heritage impact assessment report and the application "does not enhance either the existing heritage building or the area".
He indicated that some local historians also believed the age of two of the buildings due for demolition were greater than had been acknowledged.
According to East Suffolk Council, those two buildings behind, while having some historic merit, had lost some of their features and therefore Historic England did not wish to have them listed.
Bridget Law from East Suffolk Council's housing development team said Lowestoft's 20% vacancy rate was much higher than the 7.4% national average, which made restoring a space like the Post Office essential.
She added: "The project intends to set the tone for future regeneration, providing flexible commercial space and much-needed affordable housing.
"Good quality commercial units are lacking in the town centre and the opportunity to regenerate a space within a listed building will attract good quality tenants."