THE new owner of the former Tui travel agency in Wellington town centre has been revealed as London-registered property company Hadar Estates Ltd.

The company was set up three years ago by Nachman Leifer, since when the total number of companies of which he became a director rose to 50.

The building was twice sold at auction within a matter of weeks last November, with the new owner’s identity not given at the time.

Now, Mr Leifer is seeking planning permission to convert the building to commercial use on the ground floor and two studio flats on the first floor.

He has submitted a ‘prior approval’ application to Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT), which if granted would mean he did not need to go through a formal planning application process because it would be an acceptable form of development.

Planning consultant Catherine Holness, of UPP Architects and Town Planners, said: “The proposed development will only involve minor works to the internal layout of the existing premises.

“No external alterations are proposed.”

The three-storey Grade II listed building is next door to the Iron Duke Wetherspoon public house and is in Wellington’s conservation area.

Ms Holness said the two flats would be for single occupants and contain an open plan kitchen/living/dining areas, and bathrooms, and would benefit from the large existing windows ensuring acceptable levels of daylight.

A planning change was necessary because previously the commercial shop use applied to the whole of the property.

The planning submission will be discussed on Monday at a meeting of Wellington Town Council, which has been asked to provide comments to SWT.

The district council has set a target fate of March 31 to determine the issue.