Conversion of iconic TJ Hughes building recommended for approval

Planning officers at Liverpool City Council have recommended approval for a city centre housing scheme that will create 199 apartments.

Vision International Group is the applicant for the scheme at Audley House, on London Road, a TJ Hughes department store, and its former HQ, comprising a three-to-five storey building with a taller tower.

It was built in phases between 1889 and 1913 and TJ Hughes has operated from the premises since 1927. The building is considered to be a non-designated heritage asset.

The proposal, which is the latest version over a six year period, comprises the retention/conversion of the existing building, together with the erection of a part single/part two-storey extension, to incorporate 129 one-bed apartments and 70 two-bedroom apartments, together with associated basement gymnasium, 200-strong cycle store, reception/café area and bin storage area.

Since the application was first submitted to the council a number of amendments have been made to the scheme, including a reduction in height by one storey to allow the existing façade details to become more prominent, a reduction in apartment numbers, from 266 to 199, to assist in meeting National Described Space Standards (NDSS), the addition of an extra fire fighting lift, the introduction of retail/café unit on the ground floor, a reduction in the height of the atrium to assist with daylight provision in the courtyard apartments, and alterations to apartment layouts to ensure 10% wheelchair accessible units.

Notice of the scheme was served to more than 1,800 neighbours and two objections were received on the grounds of the impact that demolition/construction works would have on local residents, and refuse arrangements for existing apartments in the locality are unsatisfactory and this is likely to be exacerbated by the current proposal.

Planning officers say the building “yields medium/high significance in terms of architectural and artistic interest and historic interest”.

In recommending the application for approval, planning officers say: “The proposed retention of the existing building and the construction of rooftop extensions is considered to result in a benefit to the vitality and viability of this district centre, providing a mixture of commercial and residential uses in a sustainable location.

“Whilst not all amenity standards are met, the proposal provides for a suitable mix of flat sizes, of appropriate size, allowing for an acceptable level of amenity for occupiers. The proposed ground floor uses will help to maintain an active commercial element which is important in this district centre.”

TJ Hughes was a department store chain that was founded in Liverpool in 1912.

It grew to become a national chain with 57 stores by 2011, but shrank to just six locations after entering administration that year.

Under new ownership the business has operated a much smaller portfolio of stores from a number of different sites.

If the application is approved the remaining TJ Hughes retail function will relocate to a site nearer the city centre.

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