THE UPPER floors of a listed town centre Dorchester property will be converted to flats.

The building, which bears a Royal Coat of arms and is at Cornhill at the northern end of South Street, has been a tobacconists, collector or taxes, hairdressers and more recently a building society/bank.

For around 40 years, until 1979, it was Parsons tobacconists and hairdressers and more recently had been home to the Abbey National building society and Santander.

In its past it was once a saddler’s shop and tax collectors – at the same time.

The building, which is currently empty, is grade 2 listed and is in the town centre conservation area. It is said to have been built, or reconfigured, around 1830 with its Regency double bowed shop front. It had once been a town house.

Dorset Council has approved changes to the building which will retain the ground floor for commercial use with the upper floors converted to three separate homes, two with studio living style accommodation and one one-bedroom apartment accessed from first floor and taking up the second floor.  The units will range from 34sqm to 51sqm.

The application said the changes will not involve the removal of any historic items and will reinstate fireplaces and chimney breasts.

No changes are planned for the front of the building.

Records show that the building was owned by the Williams family from Bridehead, Little Bredy, remaining in their ownership until 1944. From the mid-19th century it was occupied by the Pouncy family who were described as saddlers and collectors of taxes. The building was also visited by Edward VII allowing the Royal coat of arms to be displayed above the door