PLANS to convert the former tax office on Chepstow Road, Newport, into 56 flats have been submitted to Newport City Council just two months after another application for a 123-bedroom hotel on the site.

The new scheme, which is being applied for by the same applicant, Mr M Nazir, also includes a roof-top garden, a gym for residents only and a storage area.

A spokesman for Newport-based LRJ Planning, which is acting on behalf of the applicant, said: "Once my client has received planning permission for both schemes he is going to weigh both up and will proceed with the scheme which is more suitable for the regeneration of this area."

The application proposes 44 one-bedroom flats and 12 two bedroom flats, along with 60 parking spaces at the former tax office, which is known as Crown Buildings. The building, which has been empty for a number of years, was originally built in the 1970s.

In a design and impact statement accompanying the application LRJ Planning said: "No external alterations are proposed to the external fabric of the building. However, the proposal will ensure that there is a beneficial re-use of the building to prevent it falling to disrepair, and a target for anti-social behaviour."

A pre-application consultation was carried out by LRJ Planning.

In total three local residents responded - all positively - with one saying: "As a resident I fully support the scheme. This building as been empty for too long."

The hotel application was submitted in October and is seeking permission to convert the building into a 123-bedroom hotel, gym, bar and fifth-floor restaurant.

A design and access statement submitted with the application said it hoped the hotel would act as a 'catalyst' for further development for vacant units between Clarence Place and the city centre.

It said: "There has been significant growth in and around the city centre in recent years, which has generated further demand for hotel accommodation in the area. There is a shortage of hotel accommodation within the city at present."