A FORMER Christian bookshop in the centre of York is poised to come up for grabs to restaurateurs after plans to transform it were approved.

Businessman Ian Loftus has secured permission to revamp the disused Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) store in Goodramgate with the aim of attracting a high-profile dining-out name to the city.

The owner of Stonegate’s Evil Eye Lounge and House of Trembling Madness bought the building following the closure of the bookshop two years ago and hopes its availability will help revitalise the street.

The site is expected to go on the market within the next week following the approval of the plans, which involve turning the ground floor of the three-storey structure into a restaurant area, by City of York Council.

Mr Loftus said: “It’s good that these proposals have been granted planning permission because the premises are fantastic.

“It’s a large building with good outdoor space and it’s also in a very good location, so hopefully we can now try to bring a decent restaurant to the area and help Goodramgate.”

A design and access statement submitted to the council as part of the planning application said any new arrival would be intended to complement existing restaurants in the street.

The refurbishment of the former bookshop will see the front section of the building become a bar and waiting area, with the rear being turned into a seating area for 56 diners and the street frontage of the site remaining unchanged.

The work will also focus on the first floor of the building, which will become customers’ toilets and office space, with about 15 staff being employed. Any new restaurant is expected to apply to stay open until 11.30pm, in tandem with similar establishments in the area.

“The proposed restaurant will make beneficial use of a property which has been vacant for two years without positive interest from other occupiers,” said the statement by York-based planning consultants Raymond Barnes, who have acted as agents for Mr Loftus.

“Reuse of the building will help to preserve the vitality and viability of the street, as well as the character and appearance of the conservation area.”