PLANS have been approved to convert part of the former British Home Store unit in the Old George Mall into a hotel.

The proposals, submitted by pensions investment company RMPI Railpen, are to keep the majority of the ground floor for small retail units, with the upper floors used for a hotel.

The hotel lobby would also be on the ground floor, with access via both the Old George Mall and New Street. The former BHS unit has been empty since 2016, when the company went into liquidation.

Responses to the proposals were mixed, with seven representation letters from the public against the plans, and four letters in favour.

Tony Armstrong, of Salisbury, said he was whole heartedly in support of the plans and said a hotel would be a “positive use for the site”, and Linda Canning, also of Salisbury, said it was “an excellent use of this site”.

Amesbury resident Joan Warden added: “A reasonable priced city centre hotel will encourage people to stay in Salisbury rather than visit for a few hours. There are many who would use the City Hall and Playhouse on a regular basis if they had a decent budget hotel to stay in as unfortunately existing hotels, B&Bs etc are often booked up or don’t meet many people’s requirements.”

But Nina Shearer of East Gomeldon said the plans “will do nothing for the residents of Salisbury” and said shops are needed more than a hotel.

Emma Martin, of Salisbury, added: “There’s nothing here to attract people as it is so it will be an empty hotel.”

Jo Gilfillan, of Salisbury, said the plans were not “the best use of this building” in light of plans for another budget hotel in the Maltings, and said residents “need more shops and businesses” in the centre.

And Julie Hobbs, of South Newton, raised the common argument that Salisbury should have a Primark store, although the budget retailer has previously said it has no plans to open a branch in the city due to its size.