Waterstones set to become £1m restaurant

A Liverpool city region Waterstones bookshop could be turned into a £1m restaurant, creating 30 jobs. Andrew Brown reports 

Former Waterstones bookshop in Lord Street in Southport. Picture by Andrew Brown Media


A Waterstones bookshop in Southport town centre could be transformed to become a new Lounge restaurant through a £1m investment.

Loungers UK has submitted a planning application to Sefton Council. It wants to convert the ground, first and second floors of the Grade II-listed building at 367 Lord Street, plus the first floor of 3-9 Nevill Street, into its new use.

Waterstones has said it will relocate to a new site in the town.

A spokesperson for Waterstones Southport said: “Just to reassure all our customers we are not leaving Southport, just relocating!

“We will have exciting news to share with you soon about our new store, but as people are speculating on social media we just want to clarify.

“Thank you all for being concerned but we are all fine.”

The new development would see around 30 new jobs created. A Design, Access and Heritage Statement for the scheme has been prepared by D2 Planning. It said: “Loungers UK operates over 190 sites across the country through two brands, The Lounges and The Cosy Clubs.

“The Lounges are located in either suburbs or market towns and are run as café / bar / restaurants – offering food from 9am until 10.30pm. Alcohol is also available from 10.30am, however it comprises a smaller proportion of total sales than food.

“The Lounges are all uniquely designed, with an emphasis on creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for families (as well as four legged friends).  The aim of every Lounge is to tie in with local customers… whether a customer wants to come in for a coffee after dropping children to school, a working lunch, or a tipple after work.

“As well as these everyday activities, each site will be tied in with local charities and initiatives. For example, during the pandemic, a number of Lounge sites opened up to make food packages for local shelters and schools.

“Each new site will generate in the region of 30 new jobs for the local community across a variety of roles – from leadership positions to front of house staff. These staff will also have available to them a very high standard of training with regards to health and safety, licensing etc which will help prepare them for other positions in the future.”

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It added: “Based on current proposals, the conversion of this property will represent an investment cost of approximately £1m. Thus, not only do Lounges create jobs for their own business, they can assist in creating an employment draw for a much wider area, across both retail and hospitality.”

The application seeks consents for various internal and external alterations including the installation of extraction. The premises comprise a five-storey building although this planning application only comprises the ground, first and second floors.”

A former bank, the building is one of a number of grand bank buildings which once dominated Lord Street. It was constructed in 1925-7 and was designed by Palmer & Holden, in association with Finchett, Lancaster & Archer of London.

The current application seeks approval of internal works to ‘fit out’ the premises to provide for a bar, kitchen, toilet area including extraction and ventilation. It has been used by Waterstones and has been fitted out previously for that purpose with suspended ceilings etc. All of these will be removed.

The proposals have been designed to ensure minimum impact on the character of the Listed building.  D2 Planning insists that the proposal “is designed in a way that would cause the least amount of harm to the character of the building and the extraction would be hidden from public viewpoints”.

This article first appeared in Stand Up For Southport

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