WHEN the sorting office at a Tynedale post office closes, there are plans to transform the space into residential use.

Helen Johnson has submitted a planning application to Northumberland County Council asking for the soon-to-be-vacant office as part of Haltwhistle Post Office to be changed into a residential unit.

The application asks for a small, one story extension to the side of the current downstairs utility into the enclosed courtyard area. This outdoor area cannot be seen from the outside of the property, and there is only one window on the second floor of the neighbouring Haltwhistle Partnership building that looks down on to the courtyard.

The current utility, extension and sorting office would then be used to provide a residential lounge, dining room, kitchen, utility and one bedroom with en-suite bathroom, remaining integral to the rest of the building.

In the existing areas (sorting office/utility) there would be internal changes to the rooms only, and the replacement of one existing door and one existing window, both on the side elevation of the property.

The size of the window/door openings would not be changed, and there were no changes planned to the front or rear of the property.

It is also proposed that the use of an existing residential bedroom and kitchen on the first floor of the building be changed from residential use to guest accommodation. This would provide two en-suite guest accommodation rooms to add to the three guest accommodation rooms the owners currently ran and had received planning permission for in 2016.

In the application, Helen said: "Royal Mail is closing the sorting office in March 2021 and the space will be vacant. The remuneration currently received from Post Office Ltd to provide Post Office services will be significantly reduced.

"It is not a viable option to let the sorting office stand empty and redundant. We have considered many options as to how to make the best use of the space with as little change/disruption to the rest of the building, the Post Office and surrounding area.

"This proposal is aimed to achieve this and also ensure the future of the Post Office as a viable business. By creating residential space from the redundant sorting office, it enables us to free up space on the first floor of the property to provide income from two further guest accommodation rooms, therefore supporting the viability and sustainability of the Post Office and also providing much needed accommodation to attract tourists/visitors to stay in Haltwhistle. The provision of Post Office services to the community will not be affected by this proposal."