THE landmark former Bratts department store in Northwich could be set for a new lease of life after plans were submitted to convert it into flats and shops.

The iconic family-run store closed for good last year following more than 160 years in business, a move seen at the time as a hammer blow for the town centre.

But now Warrington-based Jark 102, the Witton Street site’s new owners, have submitted an application to convert part of the ground floor into two retail units, with the remainder of that floor as well as the first and second floors being converted into 17 self-contained apartments.

If given the go ahead, the scheme would consist of three, one-bed apartments, 12 two-bed and two three-bed flats.

A planning statement said the remainder of the ground floor would be used for two self-contained retail units fronting onto Witton Street.

The statement said, as a result of the existing ‘tight physical constraints’ of the site, there are no opportunities to provide any off-street parking or amenity space, but that secure cycle storage would be provided in the entrance lobby to the apartments.

The statement said: “The proposals will also compliment the council’s wider town centre regeneration objectives, with the application site occupying a key location between the Barons Quay and Weaver Square schemes, with the proposed residential and retained retain uses offering support to the objectives and viability of these regeneration initiatives.

“Indeed, the application site is located immediately between the Barons Quay and Weaver Square sites, thereby being in the heart of the regeneration of the town centre.”

When the much-loved store announced its closure last year, Northwich Witton Cllr Sam Naylor branded it a ‘sad day for the town’. But he welcomed the new plans. He said: “This is good news in bad times.

“Sadly stores are closing right around the country, but this would bring what is an iconic building in Northwich back into use.

“But I’ll want to make sure it retains its historic frontage if any work goes ahead.”

Initially founded in 1860, Bratts consisted of two department stores, their flagship store located in Northwich and another on Pepper Street in Nantwich. Last month it was announced the Nantwich store would now close too on December 23.

No date has yet been set for a decision but the Northwich plans can be viewed on the council’s planning portal under reference number 22/03942/FUL.