AN empty city centre shop could still yet be turned into flats if councillors follow the advice given to them by officers.

An application to convert the building in Worcester's St Martin's Quarter, left empty since the closure of Poundstretcher, into a mix of one-and-two-bed flats was rejected by councillors last month.

The application from Cedar Worcester will go back before Worcester City Council's planning committee next week for a final decision, and council officers have now said they still stand by their judgment it should be approved.

Writing in the report the officer said: "I consider that on balance that the adverse impacts of the development would not amount to a significant and demonstrable degree of harm that outweigh the benefits of the proposal with 24 units of accommodation being provided in buildings which are currently vacant.

"However, I appreciate that it is the prerogative of the Planning Committee to apply a different weighting to their decision making and reach a contrary decision."

Officers note that if the committee decides to again refuse the application, and an appeal is lodged, then it will be necessary to appoint external consultants to act on behalf of the Local Planning Authority.

During the previous meeting concerns were raised about the small size of the flats and the loss of retail space in the city centre.

Councillor Pat Agar said she was concerned by the lack of outdoor space and people “feeling uncomfortable in their own homes” due to its location in a shopping area.

The city's Poundstretcher store closed in September last year after the company went into administration.

Most of building - Poundstretcher and Ladbrokes aside - has been empty for more than a decade and has failed to attract any interest. Cedar Worcester argue the rise in people working from home due to Covid, as well as the drop in footfall and increase in online shopping over a number of years, has made the units unattractive to potential retail tenants.

The application will be discussed at the meeting of the committee, taking place at the Guildhall on Thursday, November 25 from 1.30pm.