The former Carpetright shop in Marine Place, Seaton, is to be transformed into a community hub by a care provider.
Overington Care has been granted permission to change the use of the vacant shop unit to mixed use, including a day centre and café.
The award-winning company, which is already well-established in Seaton, overcame concerns about the principle of the proposal to gain the necessary consent.
However, the café will not be permitted to cook hot food on the first floor of the premises following concerns about odours.
In correspondence with East Devon District Council’s planning department, the company’s agent said: “The vision of Overington Care is to assist and enable the elderly and vulnerable adults to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible, rather than in residential or nursing homes, and is a reflection of wider social care policy locally and nationally.
“However, this can lead to social isolation and this application is primarily to establish a hub to provide a safe environment which individuals can visit during the day to enjoy the company of others in the cafe and / or activities.”
The hub, which will also include a shop and office, will be open to everyone – even those who do not use Overington Care for domiciliary support. It is understood the café will serve drinks, biscuits and cakes.
Concerns had been expressed at local level that Seaton was not attracting interest from major retailers. For many decades the site accommodated the local branch of the now defunct Woolworth chain.
Overington Care believes its plans for the site have a greater chance of long-term success than a retail and residential use.
In a delegated report, a planning officer said: “The proposed mixed use would be likely to retain employment at the site, and as such the proposal would ensure that the site continues to contribute to the vitality of the town.
“It is noted that the site is intended to function as a social hub and, if this is successful, it could attract footfall to the town centre and increase linked trips to other services and facilities within the town.”
The centre will be allowed to operate between the hours of 8.30am and 6pm.
Initial objections from the Environment Agency were overcome. Seaton Town Council said it was disappointed with the loss of another retail unit but could think of no valid planning reasons to object to the proposal.