THE closure of Skipton's Rackhams House of Fraser store in 2019 left a large gaping hole on the High Street that no end of cheerily painted windows and doors could hide.

Over the years it's got shabbier and shabbier not helped by the recent attempted break-ins and overgrown state of the rear car park.

Now, however, plans to sub-divide it into four, manageable separate shop units have been given the go ahead by North Yorkshire Council, which positively welcomes the scheme for the ongoing vitality and improvement of the town centre.

We don't know yet what the four units will be, only that permission is for retail and not cafe or restaurant use. We also know each will be of a decent size, and under one roof.

The High Street frontage, originally not the one building, but a collection of listed properties - including the former gem of the High Street Brown, Muffs; will be smartened up under the plans, with historic elements restored, and the creation of three individual shop fronts.

Meanwhile, around the back, the flat-roofed later functional addition, and certainly no beauty, even to fans of modern architecture, will get a new roof and the car park will be reconfigured and have lighting make it more welcoming for people coming into the town from the car park, instead of the mess it currently is.

There are still a lot of uncertainties. Permission has been given, but the work needs to be carried out, and then tenants will have to be found, and all this when the country is in a state of economic flux, and when there are many empty shops in Skipton.

But; it is a vote of confidence in the town; and one that should be welcomed.