Stockport Express

Bank to become bedsits despite crowding fears


CONTROVERS­IAL plans to convert a former bank into 11 bedsits have ‘reluctantl­y’ been passed by councillor­s, despite concerns about overcrowdi­ng.

Proposals for the old Barclays branch, in Edgeley, were approved by Stockport council’s planning committee after members were told the scheme complied with the authority’s housing standards.

It means Manchester­based Lower Estates Ltd now has permission to turn the old Castle Street branch - vacant since 2014 - into an 11 bed ‘house in multiple occupation,’ or ‘HMO.’

The scheme - including a kitchen, laundry and basement that could be converted into a games room was referred to the planning committee after local councillor­s raised concerns over bedsits being ‘crammed’ into the building.

But while members shared many of the same reservatio­ns, it was ultimately passed on the casting vote of chair Coun Steve Gribbon.

Coun Gribbon told the meeting: “I don’t like this - I think it’s ‘sardines,’ it really is - but I can’t see a viable, clear reason to do so [refuse].

“I don’t think any of us is particular­ly comfortabl­e with this but we are working within a framework which is hamstringi­ng us.”

The committee was advised that refusing planning permission would be difficult to defend on appeal. The scheme was in line with council policies and no objections had been raised by housing standards or environmen­tal health.

Coun Gribbon added: “If we defend our decision and lose we know what the financial implicatio­ns could be. And, try as we might, we can’t find a viable reason to refuse this.

“So with some frustratio­n, and I will be honest, we are going to grant this but there is a real reluctance.”

The decision came after a stalemate vote in which six councillor­s were for approval and six were against.

Coun Wendy Meikle had made her opposition to the scheme plain.

“I’m not in favour of HMOs, eleven people or more sharing a kitchen is just a backward step to me,” she said.

“The only good thing I can see in this applicatio­n is that they all have an en suite - we have seen in the past where they are sharing a bathroom, come on.

“I am not in favour of this at all.”

Coun Graham Greenhalg agreed: “This, I think is unacceptab­le for regular use,” he told the meeting.

“Someone described it as for transient works, but potentiall­y those people are going to live there for years - and it’s tiny.” And Coun Louise Heywood suggested the council may need to review its policies on space standards, given the dilemma the committee found itself in.

She noted that local councillor­s’ main concerns were over the size of communal spaces - such as the kitchen - and the potential impact on future occupants’ quality of life.

“I think personally I am going to struggle to support the applicatio­n as well for this reason,” she said. “On paper it appears to comply with the policies, so maybe we need to look at the policies.”

Applicants and members of the public are not invited to speak at Stockport council planning meetings.

However, Deborah Day, had addressed the central area committee earlier in the month.

She had argued that all rooms were ‘more than adequate’ in size and the scheme went ‘above and beyond’ council requiremen­ts in many respects.

She also told councillor­s the applicant had worked hard to ensure a scheme that would bring 11 good quality homes to an area in need of such properties.

 ?? Hestia Town Planning ?? ●●The former Barclays Bank on Castle Street, Edgeley
Hestia Town Planning ●●The former Barclays Bank on Castle Street, Edgeley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom