Redevelopment of a prominent town centre building that has been empty for more than three-and-a-half years has been given the green light.

Approval has been granted for a scheme to transform the vacant former Tesco Metro store in Lowestoft town centre with 21 homes and a new retail unit.

The plans centre around the 119 -125 London Road North site - the former home of Tesco Metro - which left a hole in the town's retail offer with its closure in September 2019 after decades of serving the community.

An application for "redevelopment of the site to provide a mixed use development retaining commercial floorspace (Class E) at ground floor level" along with "part demolition of first floor and conversion of part ground, first and second floor to provide Class C3 residential units with enabling fenestration alterations, ancillary amenity space, cycle and car parking, refuse storage, access and other associated works" was submitted to East Suffolk Council in December 2021.

Lowestoft Journal: The vacant Tesco Metro store in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesThe vacant Tesco Metro store in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes (Image: Mick Howes)

A design and access statement from agents JMS Planning & Development Ltd, on behalf of Lowestoft Developments Limited, said: "The proposal is to construct 21 residential apartments comprising of studio, one and two bed units over the existing three storeys.

"The apartments have access to a communal terrace while the west facing units have large balconies."

Lowestoft Journal: The proposed south east elevation earmarked for the scheme. Picture: Morse Webb ArchitectsThe proposed south east elevation earmarked for the scheme. Picture: Morse Webb Architects (Image: Morse Webb Architects)

With the scheme now "permitted" by East Suffolk Council under delegated powers, a report from a delegated officer at the council said: "It is proposed that the commercial unit at ground floor level is retained with public access via London Road North.

"The partial demolition - removal of a section of first floor level - is proposed to provide a communal terrace and to maximise natural light into the north-facing apartments."

The report added: "The proposed development utilises a brownfield site for housing at an acceptable density in a sustainable town centre location and is therefore recommended favourably in principle."

Recommending the scheme for approval "subject to a suite of conditions," a decision notice letter from the council stated: "Permission is hereby granted by East Suffolk Council subject to compliance with conditions."