New lease of life for former Lowestoft town centre menswear store

The empty Holgates menswear store, which will be auctioned off next month.

The empty Holgates menswear store, which is set to be auctioned off next month. Picture: Auction House East Anglia - Credit: Auction House East Anglia

A new lease of life is being proposed for a former family-run business that had been based in a town centre for a century.

After trading in Lowestoft for about 100 years, Holgates menswear closed its doors in 2019.

Now, after the vacant town centre shop and maisonette sold in May last year at an online auction for £128,500 after being marketed by Auction House East Anglia, plans have been lodged with East Suffolk Council.

Holgates in Lowestoft, which is closing down. Pictures: Mark Boggis

Holgates in Lowestoft, which is closing down. Pictures: Mark Boggis - Credit: Archant

It comes after the well known men's clothing retailer had closed on London Road North following the retirement of owners Carol and Martin Pettit, who had run the town centre shop for 23 years together with their son William and daughter Elizabeth.

Before this, the prestigious, long-serving business was owned by Len Stolliday for about 30 years.

Holgates in Lowestoft, during the1960s. Pictures: Mark Boggis

Holgates in Lowestoft, during the1960s. Pictures: Mark Boggis - Credit: Archant

Prior to that Holgates survived a Luftwaffe bombing raid in February 1941 that flattened Clarendon Stores next door.

The Holgate family used to run the shop in the High Street, before it moved to London Road North.

The original Mr Holgate, pictured at Christmas in 1928. Pictures: Mark Boggis

The original Mr Holgate, pictured at Christmas in 1928. Pictures: Mark Boggis - Credit: Archant

Ahead of the closure in 2019, the then owners expressed sadness "given its family tradition".

Back then, Mr Petitt said: 'Holgates menswear has traded in Lowestoft for about 100 years and most men in the town have shopped at the store at some time during their lives."

After being empty for two years, the three-bed maisonette in Lowestoft sold at an online auction on May 5, 2021 after the auctioneers described it as a "redevelopment opportunity".

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Now plans centre around alterations to the shop front, including creation of new residential entrance, and change of use and subdivision of the ground floor to create an additional flat.

A scheme lodged by Mr Md Rashed Ahmed, who bought the property last year, is currently "awaiting decision."

With proposals "to separate the entrance of the shop and flat", a planning statement and heritage impact assessment has been lodged with the council by GHM Planning on behalf of Mr Ahmed.

It said: "Proposed new shop front, conversion of first and second floors from residential use to house in multiple occupation and erection of single storey outbuilding to the rear to provide two additional en-suite bedrooms.

"The shop would remain on the ground floor with the remainder of the accommodation converted into a house in multiple accommodation."