PROPOSALS to convert the former Post Office in Bishops Lydeard into housing have been given the thumbs up by Somerset Council.

It comes after the former Post Office branch failed to recruit a new postmaster to take over the business since it closed in October, 2020.

In a statement submitted to planning officials, it was said the business was “no longer viable due to reduced footfall and services that people require due to the modernisation of many of the services offered online.”

It added: “The property was marketed with Greenslade Taylor Hunt from October 28, 2022, until October 28, 2023, with no offers made.”

Permission has now been given to convert the site into two dwellings with car parking and an outdoor amenity area. The conversion is said will “ensure the long-term viability” of the building, which is thought to have been vacant for several years.

Issuing prior approval, Somerset Council did raise some concerns over the prospect of phosphates being dispersed into the Somerset Levels. In a statement they said: “The site is located in an area that is hydrologically connected to the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar site and as such the proposal may have the potential to contribute to additional phosphate loading in the Ramsar site.

“Planning applications for such proposals are normally subject to an HRA under the Habitat Regulations. However this is an application for prior approval of permitted development under the provisions of the General Permitted Development Order 2015 (as amended).

“Natural England has pointed out that ODPM circular (06/05 and 01/2005) advises that permitted development affecting the Ramsar is not required to be subject to an HRA The through the prior approval process, because the Habitats Regulations relating to permitted development (Regs 75-77, formerly Reg 60) are stated to not apply to Ramsar Sites, as a matter of policy.

“The council has sought advice on this matter and concurs with Natural England’s position. Accordingly, notwithstanding the location it is accepted that this proposal for prior approval of permitted development need not be subject to an HRA and therefore no mitigation with regard to any possible increased phosphate loading can be required.”