The Walnut, on Market Square, Wellington, is “proving to be popular” but it is “considered unlikely” the first-floor space could be brought back into use as dining space, application documents say.
A statement submitted on behalf of restaurant owner Karen Lee said converting the space will ensure the grade II listed building is fully used and maintained.
Wellington Town Council members welcomed the proposal, calling it an “excellent use” of the space, and Telford and Wrekin Council’s planning department granted permission for the conversion this week.
In his design statement, Shifnal-based architect Francis Turner noted that the building was formerly a building society before being converted into a restaurant.
“The ground floor provides dining space, servery and kitchen, while the first floor includes toilets and storage and a further large single room at the front,” he said.
“The restaurant use will continue to develop trade following the pandemic and, at present, is proving to be popular. However, from present trading patterns, it is considered unlikely that the first floor could be brought into use as part of the restaurant.
“This application is for the conversion of the front part of the first floor into a further flat while retaining toilets and a store for use with the restaurant.”
An internal staircase will be removed in order to separate the flat from the restaurant and internal partitions will be added, but the external appearance of the building will be unchanged, Mr Turner added.
“The flat will comprise a living room with kitchenette, one bedroom, and a shower room,” he said.
“The flat is intended for either letting as self-catering visitor accommodation or letting on regular short-hold tenancy.
“The entrepreneurial spirit of the applicant to bring a restaurant into the centre of Wellington during a highly challenging trading period is to be welcomed and also to create living accommodation which will maximise the potential of this building.
“This will foster vibrancy in this small town centre and provide valuable living accommodation in a sustainable location at a modest cost.
“This will also assist in providing a positive use for presently unused space in a grade II listed building which is to be encouraged as this will lead to improved maintenance and financial viability of this prominent property.”
The town council planning committee discussed the proposal earlier this month.
Its consultation response, submitted after the meeting, said: “Members strongly supported the application and fully welcomed what they considered an excellent use of the upper floors of this property.”