Plans have been submitted to change part of the ex-Natwest property in Cockermouth into hot food takeaway use.

The application concerns the ground floor and proposes subdividing 23 Station Street so that part of the site would be retained for financial and professional use and would keep the ATM machine and the remainder changed from bank use to hot food takeaway use.

There are also requests to alter the shopfront and get permission for extraction and ventilation equipment.

The premises has been vacant since 2017. Plans include the generation of local full and part-time jobs, with opening hours for the takeaway being from 10am to 11pm daily.

It is proposed that the change of use would revitalise a long-term vacant building and provide local employment.

Pegasus Group has carried out a planning, design and access statement on behalf of AEW Architects and Designers Ltd, who list McDonald's and Domino's amongst their clients.

In the statement Pegasus Group said: "the use of the unit as a takeaway will introduce a new occupier into a long-term vacant unit, enhancing the vitality and viability of the town centre and providing employment opportunities."

"The use can be accommodated without causing harm to the amenity of residents close to the site, or to the character and appearance of the conservation area."

Silencers are planned for the takeaway's extractors and refuse storage space will be provided in a yard at the back of the site.

It is intended that the rear yard will also be used by staff, accessed via Sunnyside and Challoner Street.

Plans say that a high level of odour control will be included to ensure that the location of the extraction equipment at below roof level does not affect residents.

Proposals include removing the existing aluminium shopfront, together with a section of stone-clad wall and replacing it with a new aluminium shopfront, similar in size but with an additional glazed panel and new door.

Andrew Marshall, chairman of Cockermouth and District Chamber of Trade, said: "I am pleased to see there is some commercial interest in the Natwest building. It's a big shopfront to lay empty and bare.

"I'm doubly pleased that the applicant has committed to retain the ATM - we have a real shortage of these in Cockermouth as banks and building societies have closed.

"Assuming planning permission is granted, it will be interesting to see which company opens up in the hot food takeaway. There are other similar businesses on Station Street and across town and I'd hope there wouldn't be a duplication which would affect their trade. I hope it's food which will draw people into town and hopefully encourage them to visit the other businesses while they're here."

Manon Plouffe, who owns Wild Zucchinis on Station Street said: "The risk is if there's too many of the same type it will cause closure for someone. It's very difficult as a small town to keep everyone going. It's good that empty premises are being filled the important issue is that new businesses don't duplicate what's on offer.

"I believe in supporting each other. I just think we need to be creative and strategic to make things work. It would be good if it kept the ethos of the local, friendly uniqueness of the gem town that we're known for."

Cockermouth resident Rachel Habgood would prefer to see a youth hostel on the site. She said: "A youth hostel would be good in the middle of town - now that the other one has now closed."

And resident Karen Shankland said: "This is a market town and we should be encouraging local businesses. There is an endless amount of takeaways, another one there is too many.

"We don't need any more big chains or food shops. The town council need to encourage people to come into Cockermouth."

Kelly, Roxanne and Tara from the Cutting Room hairdressers, next door to the site, would prefer to see a healthy food shop, such as a salad bar, smoothie bar or a nice bistro rather than another takeaway.

And a shop worker from Desire, next to the proposed takeaway, said: "I don't think we need it. I wouldn't use it. There might be some litter with a takeaway...drinks cartons etc."

Anyone that would like to comment on the application should write to Allerdale council's planning department quoting reference number FUL/2019/0186 or via the Allerdale council planning portal website page by August 14.

Pegasus Group was unavailable for comment.