AN historic former bookshop in the heart of Ross-on-Wye will be converted into two maisonette flats after planning permission was granted.

Herefordshire planners were told that Grid Property of Hereford has applied for permission to create two maisonettes out of the four-storey, grade II listed, building in the town’s High Street.

The building had originally housed the Ross Old Book Shop, until it closed in 2020. The property still retains the book shop façade and this shop front, including its door and distinctive bay window will be kept as part of the renovation scheme.

Herefordshire Council’s senior building conservation officer Conor Ruttledge had raised concerns over several aspects of the conversion, including the materials intended for heat and sound insulation and fireproofing, but was satisfied that later changes had addressed these.

Ross-on-Wye Town Council backed the proposal, and there were no public objections to it.

Giving both planning and listed building approval, case officer Joshua Evans concluded: “The conversion plan offers a viable alternative use to the building which is presently redundant.”

The application states that it will be centred around a ‘car-free nature’ due to its of secure cycle storage, which suits its ‘highly sustainable location’ in the town centre, which is well served by lit public footpaths and bus services.

The upper floors of the building previously housed a single flat. With new internal partitions, it will now become two separate three-bedroom flats, each over two storeys, and each with their own front door off the High Street.

A rear courtyard area would be split to provide private residential space and bike storage for each flat.

Elder Books, the company that ran the bookshop, had been dealing in second-hand and antiquarian books, prints, maps and collectables for over 20 years, closed the shop at the outset of the covid-19 pandemic and now operates solely on-line and the occasional trade fair.

Herefordshire planners were told that attempts by the owners to keep the ground floor in commercial use had proved to be entirely unsuccessful.