Would you live in the old River Island in Blackpool's Bank Hey Street?

The former River Island shop in Bank Hey Street, Blackpool town centre, pictured in 2010. Developmers now want to turn the building into shops and flats
The former River Island shop in Bank Hey Street, Blackpool town centre, pictured in 2010. Developmers now want to turn the building into shops and flats
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Part of a former Blackpool fashion store has been earmarked for use as homes as part of a move to bring more town centre living to the  resort.

Plans have been approved by Blackpool Council to convert the first and second floors of an empty retail unit in Bank Hey Street into seven one and two-bedroomed flats.

The site formerly housed Blackpool’s River Island store but has largely been empty since the retailer moved into the Houndshill shopping centre.

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The scheme, which has been submitted by Oxfordshire-based Briarpath Properties Ltd, has also seen permission granted for the ground floor to be converted into three new shops as part of the same application.

A design statement accompanying the application said: “Due to the current market place, larger retailers have moved into the Houndshill shopping centre near the application site.

“Therefore the demand for a retail site of the existing volume is not required and difficult to fill.”

The ground and first floors of the building had previously been retail space, with office use on the second floor.

Planning officers, who approved the application using their delegated powers, said the scheme was acceptable even though it would add to the existing stock of one and two bedroomed flats.

But a report said “this kind of accommodation is typical of a town centre location” while the area “would not lend itself to the provision of family houses.”

The report also warned future residents may be subject to a noisier environment.

But it added: “However, this again is a feature of town centre living and is not unacceptable.”

The council has previously indicated it wants to encourage more town centre living in order to make high streets less reliant on traditional retail uses.

The Blackpool Housing Company, which is owned by the council, has in recent times converted disused hotels on Albert Road in the town centre into flats.