PLANS to turn a pub building into flats have been granted the go-ahead.

Proposals were drawn up seeking to convert The Phoenix Hotel building on Canal Street, St Helens and create an extension at the side of the building.

Applicant Camillus Hughes submitted plans to the council for the transformation and creation of a new car park to the back.

The application stated the pub has been subject to numerous re-openings and closures and has been shut since August 31, 2019, with difficulty finding a tenant to operate it.

A design and access statement, submitted by Lawrenson Associates, says: "The applicant has made numerous attempts to find tenants to operate the pub, but to no avail. There have been numerous managers and tenants throughout the last couple of years and the pub has repeatedly closed and re-opened over the years.

"In 2019 alone, the pub has closed four times, as no one has been able to make a commercial success of the pub as a business.

"Sadly this is an all too familiar tale in this current economic climate. The public house suffers from several issues, relating to a lack of investment over the years and requires a considerable amount of money to be invested into it to totally refurbish both the interior and exterior of the building, but there is no realistic prospect of this happening, bearing in mind that the pub is remotely located with very few passing customers and also suffers from a lack of car parking and other facilities (such as children’s outside play areas, beer garden, etc) which one would expect in a modern pub."

It adds: "In addition the COVID-19 situation has closed all public houses for the foreseeable future and it is not known when this lockdown will be lifted and what the economic effects will be.

"The applicant has considered two options for the future use of the site.

"One of which is to demolish the property and erect a new-build block of flats, however, due to the historical associations of the building and its attractive and unique architectural features, the preferred option is to retain the building and convert it to flats."

It concluded: "The applicant considers that the proposed development will provide a good example in the preservation and re-use of an existing historic building, which will contribute towards the borough's housing stock without harming local residential amenity or highway safety."

St Helens Council gave the plans formal approval.