IRVINE town centre is set to welcome a new restaurant and gym after plans were approved to bring a former shop unit that has been vacant for more than a decade back into use.

The ex Happit store in High Street, between Semichem and Gallagher Insurance, will be converted into an eatery, function suite and fitness gym after an application by Sava Estates for change of use permission was granted by North Ayrshire Council.

The restaurant will occupy the ground floor of the two-storey retail site, while the function suite will be above this and the gym will be located at the rear of the building over two levels.

A council report on the decision said: "Changing areas and a classroom for the gym would be provided on the ground floor, with the main fitness training area and an accessible WC provided on the upper floor.

"Access to the gym would be from existing doors on the rear of the building.

"There would be no public access between the restaurant/function suite and the gym.  Both uses would operate independently of each other."

The shop has been vacant for more than 10 years following the closure of the women's clothing store - and a supporting statement submitted with the plans said the building is "of little architectural merit".

The document added: "The change of use of this vacant unit will introduce a new eating experience to the town and will help to animate this stretch of street, particularly in the evenings and winter months when the splay of light from the premises will help to enliven the street and along with the extra pedestrian activity, deliver a sense of safety, security and wellbeing.

"This new development will contribute to the sense of place, in providing a venue to wine and dine, to meet and to foster community spirit, as well as a centrally located quality gymnasium, ensuring that the entire property is recycled for the common good."

Opening hours are anticipated to be Sunday to Thursday, 10am-11pm and Friday and Saturday, 10am-midnight.

The NAC planning department report said: "Although the building is of no special architectural or heritage value, it nonetheless forms part of the continuous building group on the east side of High Street running northwards from Bank Street to Eglinton Street.

"It is therefore a valuable building in terms of the townscape it helps to create.

"The proposed uses are considered appropriate for a town centre conservation area location."