Plan to turn retail units into flats

The retail units in Alnwick.
The retail units in Alnwick.

A bid to convert two retail units in the centre of Alnwick into flats has been lodged with Northumberland County Council.

The application, submitted earlier this month for 1-4 Paikes Street, consists of changing the use of two ground-floor shop units and the cellar into two apartments plus refurbishing two existing flats at first floor, second floor and attic levels.

Currently, one of the shops, on the lane which connects the Market Place to Narrowgate/Bondgate Within, is vacant, while the other is in use as a hairdressers’ salon.

The plans also seek to replace the shopfronts with residential-style frontages, reinstate and enlarge the cellar windows, and add three dormer windows to the rear.

The various units in question form one three-storey, stone-built property, which is ‘currently largely unused’, according to the application.

The building, which is up for sale through George F White for a guide price of £275,000, ‘is a substantial one set back from the main footpath of the street’.

The proposed development would feature a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom flat spread across the ground floor and cellar, both accessed from the front.

Spread over the first, second and attic floors would be a three-bedroom apartment accessed from the side and a two-bedroom property accessed from the rear.

A statement submitted with the application explains that ‘the current layout of the units does not meet current standards in terms of structure, sounds or fire separation and it is the intention to install new load-bearing floors and address the current substandard floor structure’.

The report concludes: ‘The block of properties is largely vacant except for the ground-floor hairdressing salon (lease expires in lease than 18 months and the tenants are currently actively looking for an alternative location).

‘As the building presently stands, it represents an opportunity to renovate and bring back into full use as a residential development of flats.’

The issue of empty units in the centre of Alnwick has reared its head again recently in the face of competition from the recently-approved new retail park on the edge of town.

In April, Alnwick Chamber of Trade began a survey to look at the vacant shops/premises, in which the town council is also involved.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service