Building work looks set to start on the former ‘Saks’ shop on Bangor High Street. The building, which has been unoccupied since the closure of the shop, has now been fenced off.

Planning permission was approved last December for the empty offices on the first, second and third floors to provide 7 living units by the applicant Varcity Living Ltd.

The proposed accommodation will comprise of six self-contained studio apartments over the first & second floors (i.e. three to each storey) plus a two bedroom flat on the third storey.

The plans will involve internal alterations and partial removal of existing internal load bearing walls, plus the removal of the ‘unsightly’ chimneys. In order to use the third floor roof space (currently storage space) as residential accommodation, modestly-sized dormer windows have been proposed which will be sensitive to the original architecture (one such dormer has already been installed on the west elevation by a previous developer). Access to the proposed studios and flat will be via the existing entrance off the High Street, which leads to a hallway and stairwell serving all three floors.

The ground floor and basement storeys, which were previously occupied by an independent retailer known as ‘Saks’ which closed a number of years ago, since which the building has been unoccupied and started to show signs of deterioration both internally and externally. likewise, the upper storeys which were previously used as office space have also been unoccupied for a number of years, and are now showing signs of deterioration.

The planning application also observed: “With this building being in such a prominent and prime location at the ‘gateway’ to the pedestrianised High Street, it is quickly becoming an eyesore in desperate need of sensitive renovation to be brought back into vibrant use again.”

It should be noted that although the client has purchased the entire building, and is looking to re-develop the lower floors (currently the retail unit) in the near future, this does not form part of the current proposal.