NEW plans to convert a former beauty salon have been granted approval.

Previous proposals for the change of use of Ambiance Tanning Beauty and Hair Salon on Market Street, Earlestown, to a ground floor HMO were refused in 2023.

Planning officers had ruled the proposal would "result in a poor form of residential accommodation which would be cramped and overdeveloped" and "would result in substandard living conditions".

Meanwhile, an earlier application for the site had also been withdrawn.

What the new plans said

A new application has been drawn up by applicant Paul Soni seeking a change of use of the premises from a beauty salon to a retail unit and two bedsits on the ground floor.

Proposals also include for the demolition of outbuildings and replacement with a single-storey rear extension.

The new plans state: "This application takes account of the previous submission and the reasons for refusal".

It says the premises' most recent use as a beauty salon "has resulted in the creation of a number of compartments within the building used to provide therapies and sun tanning".

Plans note there has been "erosion of an architectural merit of this group of buildings" which has been "taking place for many years".

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A planning and heritage statement, drawn up by agents Groves Town Planning, adds: "The proposals now tabled amend the detail of the previously withdrawn and refused schemes.

"The premises retains use as a small HMO but revised plans show just two-bed sitting rooms at ground floor."

This adds: "The first floor flat is not affected by the development. Existing outbuildings are to be demolished and replaced by a new, smaller extension to accommodate part of the HMO space.

"Critically the proposed development not only retains the shopfront as existing but also keeps the commercial use at the front of the building".

St Helens Star: St Helens Council planning officers have approved the new plansSt Helens Council planning officers have approved the new plans (Image: Stock)

It also states that "advice concluded that the shopfront is a positive feature and the impact of its removal would cause harm to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area".

Citing the previous refusal related in part to a "need to justify the loss of commercial use to the front", plans state "the solution offered in this instance is the retention of a smaller scale retail unit which would hopefully provide viable accommodation for a new user".

They add there has been a "considerable reduction in the scale of accommodation, producing two bedsits with access to light and open space to a much greater degree than the previous proposal."

Approval granted as plans found 'acceptable'

Recommending approval of the new plans, case officer Jennifer Bolton said in a report: “The bedsits would have an acceptable floor space and adequate internal amenity space for the future occupiers. 

“Although, one of the bedsits is quite small there is a large area of shared amenity space to serve the two bedsits so on balance and in the absence of any specific policy requirements for floor space of these type of units the floorspace is considered to be acceptable.”

Permission was granted.