PLANS to turn the Helensburgh branch of the Clarks shoe shop chain into a food and drink outlet have been approved – but the identity of the eatery remains a mystery.

A ‘change of use’ application for the four-storey premises on Sinclair Street was given the green light by Argyll and Bute Council planning officials last week.

The plans include using both the ground and first floor of the property as a trading area with tables and chairs, along with a ground floor counter and a first floor kitchen.

But on asking Glasgow-based Aspin Estates Ltd, who are promoting the new venture alongside chartered architect Lawrie Orr, what firm would be moving in to the premises, the Advertiser was told that information could not yet be made public.

Clarks announced in August that its Helensburgh store, thought to have first been occupied by the company over 50 years ago, would close in January 2020.

READ MORE: Clarks confirms closure of its Helensburgh store

No representations, positive or negative, were received by the council in relation to the plans, which were first given the go-ahead three years ago only for no work to take place.

A handling report by a council planning officer said: “The ground floor of the premises will accommodate a trading area with tables and chairs, counter and a toilet suitable for disabled access.

“The first floor will accommodate a further trading area with tables and chairs and kitchen. The second floor will accommodate male and female toilets, staff area and small store and the top floor will be utilised as a store.

“The kitchen extract flue will be routed internally from the first floor kitchen through the second floor to the rear roof slope.

READ MORE: Helensburgh is thriving despite closures, business chiefs insist

“The premises are located within the ‘core shopping area’ of Helensburgh as identified by the Argyll and Bute Local Development Plan 2015 and applications for changes of use require to be assessed.

“Environmental health raised no objection to the use of the premises as a Class 3 (food and drink) use nor to the installation of a kitchen extract flue on the roof of the building.

“In view of the above information it is considered that the proposal accords with current local development plan policy and associated supplementary guidance.

"It is therefore recommended that planning permission be granted.”

Eleven members of staff were employed by Clarks at the time the shop’s closure in January was announced.

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