PLANS to bring Basildon's empty Toys R Us back into use after nearly four years have been approved.

Toys R Us had occupied the shop in Southernhay since 1985 before leaving four years ago after the firm went out of business.

Now the vacant shop is set to become an "urban" storage facility called Storeaway following a successful change of use planning application submitted by Away Cheltenham. 

The new facility will largely serve residents in the town and businesses who need space for archiving, additional stock room space, furniture and IT storage.

Echo: 3D view of the proposed loading bay and yard with entrance3D view of the proposed loading bay and yard with entrance

The main entrance to the site would come via the rear service yard rather than the front entrance to be more convenient for customers moving items to and from the facility.

Away Cheltenham said the majority of changes to the building will be internal, including a new mezzanine to create an additional level for storage.

Proposals also include a new ramp outside to provide disabled access.

No objections were submitted against the plans.

Read more >>> Long-standing Argos store set to close in Basildon as it re-locates

The old Toys R Us shop sits within a larger building which also contains Sports Direct and is connected to a multi-storey car park, both of which will be unaffected by the plans.

In a report suggesting approval of the plans, a planning officer for Basildon Council said: "Having regard to the lack of alternative potential retail/commercial occupier interest for the property which lies at the edge of the town centre, the long term vacancy of the unit, current high levels of vacancy in the town centre and the potential additional employment of up to 3 staff, the re-use of the site as a self-storage facility would make an effective use of the building and would promote economic activity in the short to medium term." 

The planning officer also argued interim storage space for surrounding occupiers in the vicinity "may be beneficial" whilst the town centre "undergoes regeneration".