THE owner of an Italian restaurant says the planning permission he has sought for converting his premises is a back-up plan because of the impact of Covid-19.

Paolo Lepone, from Lepone's Italian Restaurant in Oswald Road, clarified that the planning application, confirmed by Shropshire Council, to convert the restaurant to a two-bedroom apartment was based on a need to diversify in the future.

And he was quick to clarify the restaurant is not being lined up for closure, believing the business is restoring its pre-Covid 'confidence', but more that he is keeping his options open.

He said: "We're looking at whether we have to diversify because of the fall-out of Covid-19," he said.

"We didn't know how long Covid-19 was going to be about for and after the first lockdown, it wasn't looking good.


"But the confidence in the restaurant has been good and has been back to before Covid.

"(The planning permission) is one for us to fund how we live if Covid comes back but we are going to be carrying on trading.

"We are very happy with the business."

Mr Lepone applied to convert its upper-ground floor restaurant with plans submitted to Shropshire Council in March.

It means the building, a former Presbyterian church that has served as a furniture store before it became a restaurant, could be converted to a two-bedroom apartment across two floors, with the removal of an extraction flue.

Shropshire Council planning officer Didi Kizito explained the decision to approve the plans.

"This planning application proposes the conversion of upper ground floor restaurant into one two-bedroom apartment at 18A Oswald Road," said the planning officer.

"The property is located within the Conservation Area.

"The site has extant planning permission under reference number 21/02606/FUL for conversion to form 3No. 2 bedroom apartments.

"The proposed plans indicates the conversion will be carried out over two levels and the footprint of the building would not be altered.

"The conversion scheme utilises the existing building in its entirety and would only require the removal of the external flue.

"No external extensions are proposed to facilitate the scheme.

"Consequently, with very minimal alterations to its existing external features, the conversion to residential accommodation would make appropriate use of a non designated heritage asset.

"The property is in a sustainable location within the town centre therefore accessible to varying means of transport and public car parks.

"There are no concerns raised on residential amenity grounds and therefore the scheme is considered to be acceptable."