PLANS to turn an iconic former department store into flats have been withdrawn.

The building home to Bratts of Northwich for more than 160 years has now sat empty since April 2021.

Following the closure, an application was submitted to Cheshire West and Chester Council which would have seen the property transformed into 17 apartments.

However, on Monday (November 20), JARK 102 Limited formally withdrew its application.

Cllr Sam Naylor, who represents Witton, said: “It’s depressing news really because we were looking to repurpose that building.

“We want to breathe new life into the town centre and all the experts say that the only way you do that that is to get people living in town centres.

“They’ve decided to walk away, our planners were keen to work with them but they’ve decided to look elsewhere.

“Hopefully some other investor or developer might come in and our regeneration team will be ready and waiting to answer any queries they may have.”

Northwich Guardian: The unit has been empty since Bratts shut down in 2021The unit has been empty since Bratts shut down in 2021 (Image: CWAC)

READ MORE: Northwich's most famous store Bratts calls time after 160 years

Bratts was shut down in April 2021, having served the town for more than 160 years.

The family-run department store was founded in 1860, consisting of the flagship store in Northwich and another in Nantwich, which closed down at the end of 2022.

Passing through three different families - the Bratts, the Evans and then the Grays - the original Northwich branch operated in the same spot on Witton Street as it did back when it first opened.

A planning application was submitted to CWAC in October 2022 by Plan A Limited, on behalf of the applicant, JARK 102 Limited.

The plan was to turn part of the ground floor and the two upper floors of 2-6 Witton Street into a collection of 17 apartments.

While four of these apartments would be located on the ground floor, the front of the property would continue to operate as a retail unit, made up of two shops.

The application reads: "The proposed development will result in a reduction in the amount of retail floorspace accommodated within the building. However, the building as a whole will continue to make a valid contribution towards the vitality and viability of the town centre.

"The retained retail units will attract shoppers and contribute to the retail environment, with residents of the proposed apartments generating footfall and extending the customer base for surrounding businesses."

"The proposals will also occupy a long term vacant unit in a key location within the town centre."

JARK 102 Limited and Plan A Limited have been contacted for comment.