CLACTON’S former town centre Post Office is set to be converted into flats.

The post office, in High Street, shut its doors for the final time in June last year as part of a national shake-up.

Its services move to WHSmith, in Pier Avenue, to ensure the branch was “commercially viable into the future”.

Campaigners from Clacton Labour Party and the Communication Workers Union had launched a petition against the plan over concerns about moving the services away from a public car park and the impact on other businesses in High Street.

Joel Frangel submitted an application to Tendring Council for change of use of part of the ground floor and all of the first floor from offices to residential to create 13 self-contained flats.

But council officers have now said that prior approval is not required for the change.

Clacton’s pier ward councillor Paul Honeywood said: “The continued loss of businesses from our town centre and High Street is a great concern.

“I think it’s important that the council does whatever it can to help businesses survive during this difficult time.

“The legislation that allows offices to be converted into residential properties is a worry to me.

“It’s a concern because local residents should be able to have their say when planning changes are proposed.

“On the positive side, this particular conversion is to turn the offices into self-contained flats rather than Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).”

Previous plans for change of use of first floor from office to residential to create ten self-contained flats were also allowed as part of permitted development as the branch was an office not a shop.

A report by architects Urban Planning Practice said: “The property is situated in an area with a mixture of retail, commercial and residential uses.

“It is considered that the perceivable harm could be mitigated through adequate sound-proofing measures.

“The retail, residential and business uses do not generate any significant noise to the extent that it would have an adverse impact on the occupiers of the proposed development.

“As part of the previous application, the Environmental Protection Team recommended that sound-proofing details should be secured. This is something that we are happy to agree.”