PLANS to convert the former Ena Shaw shop into mixed use retail units, a cafe and flexible workspaces have been given formal permission.

Proposals were submitted earlier this year by businessman Stephen Palfrey to St Helens Council's planning department for the empty unit on Duke Street and for the building and car park along Volunteer Street.

A design and access statement in the plans said: "The proposed development will provide St Helens’ first grade A workspaces and will bring back into use a key building on one of the town’s arterial routes.

"This change of use of the building will meet the growing demand for flexible working spaces and combining this with a café will add something currently lacking from this area".

It added works will include a re-configuration of the internal layout with the creation of a kitchen and new customer toilets, café, retail, storage and office spaces on the ground floor.  

There will also be the creation of workspace suites with glass fronted entrances on the upper floors.

Also there will be a link created from the adjacent car park to a fenced area housing a new landscaped entrance to the upper floor flexible workspaces.

The application said the development will "significantly enhance the appearance of the building and its presence on Volunteer Street"  and "create a more flexible internal layout to accomodate a variety of uses from retail, food and drink and flexible workspaces".

St Helens Star: A CGI of the unit on Volunteer StreetA CGI of the unit on Volunteer Street (Image: St Helens Council Planning Portal)

It added the conversion of the unit will "strengthen its appeal to secure its long term future to contribute to the St Helens economy".

Plans added: "The final solution will dramatically improve the sense of arrival for visitors on Volunteer Street as well giving positivity to the whole area.

"It will strengthen and enhance the building’s ability to have a long term sustainable future".

St Helens Star: Ena Shaw closed in 2020Ena Shaw closed in 2020 (Image: St Helens Star)

It concluded: "This development creates something unique to St Helens as it capitalises on the growing trend for grade A, comtemporary flexible workspaces.

"It will bring a key building on a key arterial route back into use after it has been left abandoned since the closure of Ena Shaw in early 2020.

"The investment being made will not only enhance the area, particularly around Volunteer Street, but will contribute to increasing footfall to the town centre - thus complementing the efforts being made with the town centre regeneration programme".

The Ena Shaw shop closed after the soft furnishing manufacturer announced it had gone into administration in February 2020. 

Earlier this year, Mr Palfrey, after purchasing the building, offered use of the building for the Stand With Ukraine St Helens project, helping donations be transported to the Ukrainian border with Poland following Russia's invasion.

In a report recommending approval, case officer Alex Ball said: "This building has been vacant for a couple of years with the re-use of this building having a positive impact on the character of the area, bringing a vacant building back into use".

It was noted the applicant has provided a revised 'Proposed Landscape Plan'  showing "cycle parking within a secure area and clarifying that the tarmacked area will be used for delivery vehicles".

The report added "the development would be acceptable" and that the Highways officer raised no objection.

It concluded: "I consider that the development would comply with policy LPA06 of the St Helens LP."

Formal permission was given.