PLANS to turn a former charity shop into a tanning and beauty salon have been approved.

Grainrent Ltd has been given the go-ahead to convert one of the units at the shopping centre in Commercial Road, Totton.

New Forest District Council often opposes applications to use shops for what it describes as “non-retail” purposes.

But a report by council officers said: “In this case the change of use to a tanning/beauty salon is considered acceptable in a town centre location.”

The report said attempts to market the former Age Concern premises as a retail unit had failed to generate any interest.

It added: “The current empty shop has a serious impact on the appearance of this important part of the town centre and in this respect a new use on both the ground floor and the first floor will be beneficial.

“The balance in this case is to ensure the vitality of the town centre is maintained.”

The initial change of use application sparked fears the unit would be converted into a betting shop and resulted in a protest being lodged by David Hibbert, of Hammonds Green, Totton.

In a letter to the council he said: “I object to the application on the grounds that Totton already has two bookmakers operating in three premises.

“I have lived in Totton for more than 50 years and have never seen a queue outside any of these premises. Therefore a fourth bookmakers would seem to be unnecessary. Our society does not need to encourage more gambling.”

But the officers’ report said the applicants resubmitted the proposal and clarified what the building would be used for.

It added: “The existing empty premises has a detrimental impact on the appearance and vitality of this part of the town centre.

“The proposed use is considered compatible with town centre-type uses and the application is therefore considered to be in line with local and national policy.”

The report denied that the change of use would result in too many non-retail uses in a primary shopping frontage.