A three-storey building of apartments and retail space will be built in place of former shops and offices in the centre of Ashton-under-Lyne.

Members of Tameside’s planning committee have approved proposals for the construction of a new block which will contain 49 flats.

It will see the demolition of the existing buildings at 30-38 Old Street, which had been occupied by The Shubar shoe shop on the ground floor and office and storage accommodation above.

However the building, which is spread across three and two-storeys, is now vacant.

Under the approved plans it will be replaced by a building with 41 one-bedroom apartments, six studio apartments and two, two-bed flats.

They will be split across three storeys, with a further fourth storey in the roof space.

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The car park at the back of the property, which is privately owned and operated, will also be developed.

In total there would be 13 parking spaces, and 66 cycle spaces provided to serve the new flats and retail space.

Sam Thistlethwaite, the agent for the applicant, Yu Group, told the meeting: “The proposals will have a positive impact on the town centre compared to the existing buildings and we believe this is a step forward.

“The applicant is keen to invest in Ashton town centre.”

But Councillor Doreen Dickinson said: “I don’t understand in a town centre how it can be acceptable to have 13 spaces. You can tell me until you’re blue in the face there’s a train station, bus station – people still want a car.

“How 13 spaces can work for a development of this size is just beyond me. Is there an age limit to these flats because they’re not going to jump on bikes at 60-odd are they?”

The current shop units on Old Street

Planning officer David Thompson said he ‘understood the concerns’ but added: “There are significant benefits that accrue from the redevelopment of this site. It is a brownfield site – we have a housing shortfall.

“There wouldn’t be an age limit of the flats as it stands at the moment. It’s a site that’s right in the middle of the biggest town centre in Tameside and those regular transport links shouldn’t be underestimated.

“Given the highly sustainable location of this site, you’re within walking distance of the tram network, rail, and also regular bus services to and from Manchester city centre.

“There isn’t considered to be an issue in terms of the loss of that car park, which is privately operated anyway.

“The scheme would retain retail units at ground level but there would be a reduction in the amount of retail space compared to the existing position but clearly the retention of some retail in terms of the vitality and viability of the town centre is welcomed.

“And the fact that this scheme will include quite a lot of residential development will obviously increase footfall in the town centre as well.”

He added there had been some objections from neighbouring retail units raising issues over the access to the rear of the units, which had been taken through the car park.

But he concluded: “Given the significant regenerative benefits of this scheme, and the fact that the loss of parking wouldn’t be a concern in terms of capacity of car parking itself within the town centre, officers consider that those reasons wouldn’t be sufficient to outweigh the benefits.”

Coun George Jones added: “If I was going to live in a town centre I don’t think I’d necessarily think about parking to be honest.

The aerial artist impression of the site

“I think you would be looking more for public transport links.”

All councillors on the panel – except for Coun Dickinson – voted to grant planning permission subject to the prior completion of a Section 106 agreement.

This will secure financial contributions of £40,764 towards improvements to the facilities at Ashton War Memorial Gardens and environmental improvements to the public open space within Ashton town centre.

A further £11,297 will go towards enhancements to pedestrian and cycleway facilities within Ashton Town Centre, and £49,937 will fund off-site affordable housing provision – with up to £101,450 additional funding depending on sales values of the flats.