Plans to change part of the ex-NatWest property in Cockermouth into a hot food takeaway have been approved with a mixed reaction from the town’s traders.

The proposal to alter part of the vacant bank premises on Station Street to a takeaway, with changes to the shopfront, was granted by Allerdale council.

The ATM machine has been retained and permission has been granted on condition that adequate ventilation is used, suitable for a kitchen extraction system with regard to the cooking of pizzas.

The application includes the generation of local full and part-time jobs, with opening hours for the takeaway being from 10am to 11pm daily.

Andrew Marshall, chairman of Cockermouth and District Chamber of Trade, said: “I’ve said before that I am keen to see something happen soon in the old NatWest building. It’s such a big shopfront and it’s not good to see it sitting empty.

“We still don’t have any information about who is taking it over so I’m reluctant to say whether I think it’s a good thing for Cockermouth until we get more details.

“However, I welcome the commitment to retain the ATM as cash points are something that we are lacking and I hope whoever moves into the rest of the building will be a positive addition to the food and drink already on offer here.

“I want it to give people another reason to visit and spend time in Cockermouth.”

Manon Plouffe, who owns Wild Zucchinis on Station Street said: “The risk is if there’s too many of the same type it will cause closure for someone.

“It’s very difficult as a small town to keep everyone going. It’s good that empty premises are being filled. The important issue is that new businesses don’t duplicate what’s on offer.

“I believe in supporting each other. I just think we need to be creative and strategic to make things work. It would be good if it kept the ethos of the local, friendly uniqueness of the gem town that we’re known for.”

Resident Karen Shankland said: “This is a market town and we should be encouraging local businesses. There is an endless amount of takeaways, another one there is too many.”

The premises has been vacant since 2017.

An attempt was made to contact the agent, Pegasus Group who applied on behalf of AEW Architects and Designers Ltd, who list McDonald’s and Domino’s amongst their clients.