Shop and flats earmarked for vacant building near town centre

The Swinton Insurance branch in Lowestoft has closed its doors. Picture: Mark Boggis

The former Swinton Insurance branch in Lowestoft, which closed its doors in 2019. - Credit: Mark Boggis

A new lease of life has been earmarked for a building that has been empty for more than three years.

Plans have been lodged with East Suffolk Council to turn a long serving former insurance brokers in Lowestoft into new flats, with a shop retained as part of the scheme.

The application centres around "retention of shop at ground floor level" and "change of use from offices along with extension to form eight flats" at the former high street branch of Swinton Insurance on Bevan Street East in Lowestoft.

The scheme lodged by agents Ian Garrett Building Design Ltd, on behalf of the applicant Tuc Properties Ltd is currently awaiting decision with the council.

Bevan Street East, Lowestoft

Bevan Street East, Lowestoft. - Credit: Nick Butcher

With the building at 127-128 Bevan Street East, Lowestoft dating back to 1900, it was previously a branch of local insurance firm Waveney Insurance Brokers before it became Swinton's Lowestoft branch.

Six people were made redundant in February 2019 after Swinton said that they were "reshaping" the branch network as the changes were part of a "long-term plan" to transform the company into "the UK's number one digital insurance broker".

Now, with the three storey building - measuring a site area of 247sq m - having been vacant since then, a new lease of life has been proposed.

A design and access statement submitted by the agents said: "Previously the buildings were used by a local insurance firm, this use has ended and the current building has sat empty.

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"The building is set over three storeys with a shop at ground floor level and offices at first and second floor.

"The proposals are for an extension to the rear of the property, building over the top of an existing ground and first floor structure to create a larger second floor.

"This will then allow the conversion of the existing first and second floor building to be converted into eight good sized one bedroom flats."

It adds: "The proposals include two areas on the ground floor that allow for both a secure cycle storage area and a bin storage area, both of a size suitable for the number of flats proposed.

"The proposed dwellings will have an important and positive impact, inserting life into this particular area of the town centre where retail/office space at first and second floor is hard to occupy or rent out."