Work has started on a project to divide one of Felixstowe's largest town centre stores into smaller shop units.

Councillors approved the plan to turn the former Dorothy Perkins and Burton store in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, into three retail units after being told the demand for larger retail premises is "non-existent".

East Suffolk Council granted permission for alterations to the shopfront last year.

Work is now underway on the changes though no details have yet been made public of businesses that might be moving into the premises upon completion.

The property stands almost opposite the large ex Marks and Spencer store, which has now been standing empty for three and a half years, though is understood to have recently been sold. The exterior was last week given a new coat of paint and marketing boards advertising the property or sale were recently removed. 

It is expected that this too could be subdivided to create new shops or restaurants, while new flats will be created above. 

In relation to the Dorothy Perkins and Burton premises, Phil Cobbold Planning Ltd, representing applicants Medinapoint Investments Ltd, told East Suffolk Council that sub-dividing the shop will make it more attractive for a wider range of businesses.

The company said: "Increased internet sales and the Covid epidemic have resulted in the closure of a large number of former High Street brands.

"As many restructure and focus solely on online sales, the demand for large retail premises in the high street is non-existent.

"The works proposed by this application will enable the ground floor to be divided into three smaller units which will be of greater interest and more affordable to a wider range of small local businesses.

"Subdivision to three units will potentially provide more local employment opportunities for full-time and part-time staff. The proposal will help to breathe new life into a vacant building, in accordance with the Government’s ‘Build Back Better High Streets’ strategy."