Flintshire Council approves plans to convert vacant Shotton shop into house of multiple occupation
Part of a vacant shop in Shotton will be converted into a HMO (house of multiple occupation) despite community objections.
Flintshire Council’s planning committee granted change of use for the premises at Chester Road West in the town, which retains the ground floor retail section of the property.
The building has been vacant for some time and the applicant proposed the renovation of the property to reinstate a retail unit on the ground floor at the front of the building back into use as a shop.
An eight-bedroom HMO will be created at the rear and on the first and second floors including six bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and two bedrooms which would share a bathroom.
An open plan kitchen, dining and living area will be created and the total number of occupants would not exceed eight with only one occupant per bedroom.
Agents on behalf of the applicants told the committee they intended to bring a premises back to life which has been blighted with vandalism and anti-social behaviour, in response to objections lodged by the community to the plans.
Shotton West Cllr Sean Bibby (Lab), the ward councillor, and cabinet member for housing and regeneration, said he welcomed the retail aspect of the proposals but had objections on grounds of overdevelopment.
He said: “I would have no objections to the redevelopment of the site which has been empty for some time and is in quite poor condition.
“There are still concerns about this application, it’s perceived in the community and by myself as being overdevelopment of the site.
“Shotton unfortunately has had quite a significant amount of applications in certain areas of the town which I think is having a cumulative effect on the community at large.
“There is a pressure on amenities, there’s a pressure on waste and parking, and I think there are certain areas of our county which feel that there is an overconcentration of these properties and that is leading to a lot of issues.”
Cllr Bibby added he was also concerned about the lack of outdoor space, and the look of the shop front.
Connah’s Quay Central Cllr Bernie Attridge (Ind) pointed out the council had just adopted a Local Development Plan with clear policies for HMO’s, and this application met those standards.
He said: “I understand where Cllr Bibby is coming from regarding concentrated areas. I’ve got the scars all the way through Connah’s Quay central ward, of HMO’s.
“But it’s a town centre location, near a train station, with a bus station opposite.”
Cllr Chris Bithell said the plan secured a retail business in the town and would use space above the premises that would otherwise be empty.
He added that while it might not be ideal, it was what many people could afford and is needed in the midst of a housing crisis.
Buckley Bistre East Cllr Richard Jones (Ind) said HMO’s for eight people could not be compared to a family of eight in terms of character and effect on the community.
Planning officer Andy Roberts said occupants were at the lower end of the affordability spectrum and in need of housing, that it was costly for the council to place people without homes in bed and breakfast accommodation while pointing to the regeneration of the retail unit.
Flint Coleshill and Trelawny Cllr Paul Cunningham (Lab) asked members to leave aside any prejudices about the potential occupants.
“Not all homeless people or people who want to live in this sort of accommodation are anti-social people, they’re not there to create anti-social behaviour”, he said.
“They deserve the right to live somewhere.”
Ultimately the committee followed the recommendations to approve the development.
By Rory Sheehan – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).