PLANNERS have approved a change in permission that should pave the way for part of a former department store to be brought back into commercial use. 

Approval was given in September last year for the redevelopment of the former Herbert Lewis department store in Chepstow which would have seen its ground floor converted into three smaller retail units, all accessible from High Street. 

The remainder of the three-storey building, which isn’t listed but is described as making a “positive contribution to the character of the town’s conservation area” was to be converted to residential use while some modern extensions at the back of the building will be demolished. 

An application to amend the decision to combine the three commercial units into one has now been approved by Monmouthshire County Council’s planning department. 

The application form stated the change is required “to comply with pre-let commercial tenant requests”. 

No information about tenants is given in the application but in June the South Wales Argus reported that Loungers’ café bar, the group behind the popular Cozy Club chain, had confirmed it plans to open Pontio Lounge in April 2024 at the former Herbert Lewis store at 9-11 on High Street. 

The department store closed in 2018 having been run by the same family for 140 years, with it having established a drapers in one of the shops on High Street in 1878 before expanding to the neighbouring premises. 

Planners have also approved other minor changes including relocating the residential external stairs leading to first floor and a pitched roof over an external courtyard. 

Two new flats are also being built at the rear of the building with the first and second floors converted to seven flats.