A CHANGE of use has been proposed for an empty Chester city centre shop premises recently vacated by Age UK.

The trustees of the Queen Street Masonic Hall have submitted a planning application to Cheshire and West and Chester Council to turn the adjoining building, which it owns, into a meeting room.

The premises was occupied by Age UK for several years as a shop and advice centre but the charity opted against renewing the lease at the end of March.

The Masonic Hall decided that given it had a need for a meeting room and the Covid pandemic had hindered its attempts to find a new tenant, it would retain the site for its own purposes.

Chester-based John Davies Associates, submitting the planning application on behalf of the trustees, said in the design and access statement: "Age Concern UK Ltd, the charity providing help and advice to older people, decided not to renew their lease of the shop premises at 4 Queen Street, which they had occupied for a number of years.

"The owners of the shop premises, the trustees of the Queen Street Masonic Hall decided that as they had a need for a meeting room and the pandemic had negatively impacted on the possibility of finding another tenant for the shop premises, they would retain the building for their own purposes.

"The development proposals envisage the removal of the proprietary partitioning to create an open space and the creation of an internal access from the adjacent Masonic Hall which will necessitate the construction of a small flight of stairs from the new access door level down to floor level in No. 4 Queen Street.

"Disabled Access will be via the existing door to the premises from the footway of Queen Street; no changes (except the removal of the Age Concern signage from the front façade) are proposed for any the external elevations."

The application adds: "The proposed change of use will enable an empty shop unit in the centre of Chester to be brought back into beneficial use with minimal changes to the building which is located in a readily accessible location."