Plans to turn a former Prestwich office block into flats have been approved after staff made a permanent move to homeworking.

International House, in the heart of the Church Lane conservation area in Prestwich, was the subject of a planning application lodged earlier this year to convert it into eight apartments.

The offices there were formerly used by travel businesses Cruise Club UK and Simple Travel Finance Ltd until office staff began working permanently from home following the pandemic.

Bury Times: The front elevation of the building along Church LaneThe front elevation of the building along Church Lane

International House was originally built as the Prestwich Conservative Club in 1874 and was designed by the Manchester architect William Dawes.

In 1957 the Conservative Club relocated to its present location along the same road and the building was subsequently used as a school for several years.

The building will now be converted into eight apartments from the basement to the first floor ranging from one to three bedrooms, including a car parking space for each flat.

Following plans for the building’s latest incarnation, some residents expressed concern that an increase in residential vehicles on Church Lane would cause further damage to the road.

Bury Times: The first floor of International HouseThe first floor of International House

One resident said: “Church Lane is a single track due to parked vehicles and the tarmac is very worn now with many potholes. Heavy plant would make it much worse.”

Another added: “Church Lane is in a dire state of repair and struggles to facilitate the number of vehicles that use it today.

“With parking, it has a single lane section between this proposal and the very congested main highway (Bury New Road).

“Due to congestion, it makes turns into and out of Church Lane very problematic by vehicles and the junction is close to impassable for cyclists heading into and out of Church Lane for movements which cross the flow of traffic.

“The increase in residential occupation of Church Lane will have a significant detrimental impact to congestion and there is no opportunity to transfer to sustainable transport modes (cycling).”

However, in a report, the council concluded that the new flats would “not result in a significant increase in traffic generation or impact highway safety comparable to an office use which could potentially accommodate larger numbers of people".

The application has now been approved with conditions, including that work on the development must begin within the next three years.