A PLANNING application to subdivide a former restaurant premises at a retail park has been withdrawn.

The Star reported in January after proposals to divide and change the use of the former Frankie & Benny's restaurant, at Ravenhead Retail Park were submitted to the council.

The plans sought to create two units, along with external alternations, with "advanced negotiations for half the unit" to be taken up by a "national bakery/café operator". 

The plans stated the unit, 6A Ravenhead Retail Park, has attracted "very limited interest and, most recently, following site inspections the unit was rejected by a national chain of charity shops and a vets". 

The proposed subdivision is aimed at "making the remaining space more attractive to retailers".

A cover letter by planning agents DWD Property and Planning in the application stated the unit "was previously occupied by Frankie & Benny’s as a restaurant", until this relocated to Linkway West in 2018, before it was announced in 2020 the premises would close. 

The unit at Ravenhead Retail Park has remained vacant since the relocation.

The cover letter added: "Unit 6A has been marketed extensively by the applicant, including ‘To Let’ boards and using its extensive national and regional property contacts and through the issue of marketing details and advertising" and has "appointed three leasing agents specialising in retail and leisure agency with combined experience covering many decades". 

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It was said: "There has been very limited interest and, most recently, following site inspections the unit was rejected by a national chain of charity shops and a vets. 

"Both considered the unit to be too big or in the wrong location on the scheme, preferring representation closer to anchor tenant B&Q".

The plans said at the time that there were "advanced negotiations for half the unit from a national bakery/café operator.

"The application is therefore aimed at facilitating part occupation of the unit while making the remaining space more attractive to retailers. 

"The applicant’s investment in the unit will be in the region of £250,000 comprising the costs to subdivide, strip out the previous occupier’s (now defunct) shop fit and repair damage sustained from vandals. 

"Bringing the unit back into beneficial use will contribute to the local economy in terms of jobs and spending as well as business rates (the unit is currently subject to empty rates relief as it is vacant and incapable of occupation).  

"The applicant is also seeking the change of use of the new Unit 6A2 from A3 food and drink use (as stipulated by the planning permission) to Use Class E, which would allow for a range of uses, including retail use."  

The application says works would include "some minor external alterations".

St Helens Star: An overhead view of Ravenhead Retail ParkAn overhead view of Ravenhead Retail Park (Image: Steve Samosa)

The letter concluded: "Following a sustained period of vacancy and consistent efforts to lease the property this application seeks to deliver £250,000 of investment to refurbish and subdivide it, bringing it back into active use delivering additional employment opportunities and business rates revenue to the borough". 

The application has since been withdrawn, a decision notice on the council's planning portal confirmed.

A reason for the withdrawal was not cited but a correspondence from planning officers to the applicant suggested if they intend to resubmit the application, to discuss first with the case officer any amendments or revisions.