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New student flats plan for boarded-up former Lancaster bed shop

The former bed shop in Oddfellows Hall on Brock Street in Lancaster

Plans for new student flats in a boarded-up former bed shop in Lancaster city centre are back on the table.

A planning application has gone in to convert Oddfellows Hall on Brock Street into 24 flats.

The boarded-up former Bensons for Beds has long been regarded as one of the city centre's biggest eyesores.

Permission was granted to convert the Grade II listed building to student flats in 2014 but no work took place and the permission lapsed.

Developer Inayat Munshi, of Brock Developments Ltd, is seeking new permission to convert the upper floors into four cluster flats and 20 studio flats, as well as dormer roof extensions. The ground floor would remain as a shop unit. 

The studios would have a dedicated entrance off Mary Street with a new internal staircase and lift to serve the upper floors.

A Design and Access statement, submitted with the plans, says: "These alterations seek to improve the appearance of the building and preserve the positive contribution to the conservation area."

Local heritage champions Lancaster Civic Vision said they supported the application "in principle" but wanted a condition put in place to "prevent further deterioration" of the building. They also called for a "public commitment" on when work would start.

Talks have been ongoing between Lancaster City Council and the building's owners over its redevelopment.

In November 2022, after concerns were raised locally about the state of the building, a council spokesperson said: ‘’City council officers were in contact with the owners and productive discussions are ongoing regarding improving the condition of the building and exploring potential future re-use, subject to planning permission being granted.’’

Oddfellows Hall was built in 1844 as a meeting room and residential accommodation.

Lancaster City Council will decide whether to grant planning permission in due course.

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