Small flats with shared kitchens and a space for new restaurants could soon replace the former Argos building in Sutton High Street.

It is thought the “high end HMO” (house of multiple occupancy) would attract young professionals to Sutton.

The development was given the green light by Sutton Council’s planning committee on Wednesday (June 7).

The plan is to build 38 rooms where residents share six kitchens but all have en-suite bathrooms.

The rooms are between 18 and 20 square metres.

On the ground floor of the three storey building, there is expected to be space for small restaurants.

After the closure of Argos, the building was home to Home Needs Furniture until March.

At the meeting, Councillor Tony Shields raised his concerns about the entrance to the building, in a lane off the High Street down the side of Asda.

He said: “I am concerned about the access which is a blind alley. Once you enter that alleyway there is no escape.

"The police have failed to make a comment what is widely accepted to be the place where most crimes happen in Sutton High Street.

“Outside Asda is considered be lively, to say the least.

"We all know Sutton and we all know to avoid that area and this entrance is going to be slap bang in a blind alley with no escape route in the most lively bit of town, and the police have nothing to say about it.”

All the flats would be rented out but none of them would be offered as ‘affordable’ properties.

It does not include any car parking space but does have space to store 30 bicycles.

The applicant for the scheme is Riaz Kasmani, while the agents and architects are KJC Architects.

Kevin Clarke from the firm, said there were previous plans for an eight-storey block for the site which was scrapped for the three storey design.

He told the meeting: “It is probably one of the worse sites on the High Street, it is an eyesore, it has been like this for a very long time.

"Our proposal is to regenerate the area, the gateway area to Sutton town centre, the catalyst being the Sound Lounge which is adjacent.

“We are using that as a catalyst to move forward with plans for high end restaurants and eateries with residential above.

"The scheme is very well designed, it is very in keeping with the street scene in comparison to what was originally proposed with the tower block and the existing building.”

Mr Clarke added that HMO is “high end” and targeted towards young professionals.

He said there will be a 24 hour concierge posted at the building.

The plans were approved with nine votes for and one against. Councillor Patrick Ogbonna was the one councillor who voted against the plans.

During the meeting, Cllr Ogbonna asked whether creating apartments rather than a HMO had been considered saying the quality of life for residents would be better.

He said: “This looks like you are cramming a lot of people into a small space.”