Go-ahead for new shops and flats at site of former family-run business

Cooks Furnishers Lowestoft plans lodged

Plans have been lodged for the former Cooks Furnishers, of Lowestoft, site. - Credit: Mick Howes

New shops and two new flats are set to be created at a prominent building in south Lowestoft.

Having been synonymous with a town for more than a century, Cooks Furnishers, of Lowestoft, closed in July 2019 as brothers Peter Cook and Michael Cook hung up their tape measures for a well-earned retirement.

Now, their former premises on London Road South in Kirkley looks set for a new lease of life.

After closing in 2019 and being vacant ever since, it marked the end of a popular independent family-run business that had been at the forefront of furniture retailing having traded in Lowestoft for 107 years.

Cooks Furnishers Lowestoft closure 2019

Cooks Furnishers, of Lowestoft, which closed in 2019 after 107 years in the town. - Credit: Mick Howes

With a scheme lodged with East Suffolk Council in August for a "shop refurbishment" of the vacant building with "two additional first floor flats", the plans were approved under delegated powers earlier this month.

Centring around "Shop refurbishment and the forming of two additional first floor flats" at 198-206 London Road South, a design and access statement was submitted by agents Julian D Hood Ltd, on behalf of the applicant Global Asset International Ltd.

It said the development would see the large store divided "into separate units" - with one unit potentially earmarked to be a restaurant.

As the site area measures 634.00 sq m the premises is "formed from five original high street shops" as the proposal includes "refurbishment and subdivision of existing shopfront into five units."

It stated: "The Cooks Department Store building has new owners.

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"The new owners are enthusiastic to turn the single large shops to separate units to bring more variety to the street scene.

"It is the intention that the shopfronts will be restored as part of separating the single large shop into individual small separate shops.

"The new owners are also a family business, who intended to refurbish and return the street scene to it’s original look."

A report from a delegated officer at the council recommended that "planning permission be granted subject to conditions" as "the proposed scheme is considered to enhance the character and appearance of the Conservation Area via the re-introduction of original shopfront features and details and the overall refurbishment of the site."

In granting approval, a decision notice letter to the agents from the council stated: "Permission is hereby granted by East Suffolk Council," subject to conditions.