TURNING Bridgwater’s former tax office into 22 flats is “the only economically viable option for the building”.

That is the view of a developer hoping to convert the office in North Street, which has been vacant for around two years, into 13 one-bed and nine two-bed flats.

Despite a campaign by trade unionists to save it, the Bridgwater office and several others in Somerset were closed as part of a nationwide cost-cutting drive by HM Revenue and Customs.

Tamlyns, the agents for applicant Westgate Properties, describe the office as “dilapidated” and “uninspired” in supporting papers for the flats project.

They say: “Unfortunately, Bridgwater, particularly in the current economic climate, does not have a recognised need for additional office accommodation, a point perhaps shown by the fact the building was on the market for some considerable time before the current owners purchased it earlier this year.

“The proposed use appears to make sense and furthermore is really the only economically viable option for this building.

“The reasons for this are numerous. The current state of the building is perhaps not the most appealing, and the current owner finds himself in a common predicament, whereby the building requires significant financial input to bring it up to a good standard.

“However, such financial expenditure cannot be justified as commercial use end values, whether re-seal or rental income, would not stack up against the financial outlay required.”

Tamlyns also say: “This part of Bridgwater cannot be classed as a recognised viable commercial area. For these reasons, the site with its current use is completely unviable.”

The scheme, which would also include a roof-top extension, would provide 20 off-street parking spaces, and 32 cycle storage spaces.