A vacant shop owned by a Shropshire councillor is to be converted into a one-bed flat after planning permission and listed building consent were granted.

The ground floor shop premises at 28 High Street, Cleobury Mortimer, have been empty for several months, reflecting a shift in the balance of the town centre.

Members of Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee approved the applications, made by Councillor Gwilym Butler, at a meeting on Tuesday, with members supporting the idea of bringing an empty property back into use, particularly given its Grade II listed status.

A statement from Councillor Madge Shineton, who jointly represents Cleobury along with Councillor Butler, was read at the meeting. It said: “The shop premises are small and both vehicle and pedestrian access are problematic, which I suspect doesn’t encourage any retailer to rent the property.

“I have no problem with the proposed conversion as the area is in great need of all sections of rented property.”

These views were echoed by members of the committee.

Councillor Cecilia Motley said: “It seems to me that this is the sort of application that we may see coming to us more often, in that I suspect that quite a lot of retail businesses are going to be struggling. We may have to consider more of these applications turning previous retail premises into accommodation.

“In this particular case it seems to me that if the retail tenant moved out some months ago and the applicant has not found anybody else it seems very sensible to turn this from a retail unit into an accommodation unit, and it seems to be done relatively simply.

“I think this may be a harbinger of the future for us. As Councillor Shineton said in her representation, we should actually welcome an increase in the amount of rented accommodation because we know how desperate the housing need is, and Cleobury is no different than anywhere else.”