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Plans to convert town centre offices into a House in Multiple Occupation have been allowed on appeal.

Wrexham Council’s planning committee had refused permission for the development at the former ISP Architects office in Regent Street, Wrexham.

Members cited fears about living conditions for occupants, particularly the lack of external amenity space.

But Planning Inspectorate officer Declan Beggan has overturned the committee’s decision, meaning the development can now go ahead.

It is proposed to convert the property into a five-bedroom HMO.

Mr Beggan said: “The proposed development would provide an enclosed amenity area to the side and rear of the property that would be used for drying purposes, and a bin and cycle store.

“The council have not provided any adopted Local Planning Guidance (LPG) or other approved standards that relate to the provision of amenity space for the proposed development.

“In the absence of such standards there is no reasonable measure of what constitutes a substandard amenity area as referred to by the council in its refusal notice.

“Nevertheless, along with their appeal bundle the council provided a copy of an adopted LPG entitled ‘Conversion of Dwellings to Houses In Multiple Occupation’ and whilst strictly speaking related to the conversion of dwellings as opposed to business premises, nonetheless it gives an indication of the council’s aspirations in terms of provision of amenity space serving Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

“It states that where proposals lack garden space, then space should be provided on the premises for drying clothes and for bins storage – the proposed development would provide for drying and bin storage areas.

“Based on my observations whilst on site visit and in the absence of any minimum standards set by the council, I consider the amenity space being proposed at the property as indicated on the amended plan to be adequate to serve the needs of future occupants.

“In terms of the wider amenity/recreational needs of future occupants of the development I consider these would be adequately met bearing in mind the site’s location within a built up area of Wrexham where numerous public open spaces and parks are within a reasonable walking distance.

“I therefore conclude the proposed development would provide acceptable living conditions for future occupiers with particular regard to the provision of external amenity space and as a consequence would not run contrary to policy GDP1 of the UDP.”

Prior to the original meeting, Offa Community Council had objected to the proposal, citing a detrimental impact on the conservation area in which the property falls.

But now approval has been granted, the first floor will be turned into four bedrooms with a communal bathroom while the ground floor will house a further bedroom as well as a communal living space, kitchen, toilet and shower.

Offa Community Council members felt the change to the front of the property, formerly occupied by ISP Architects, would have a significant detrimental impact on the terrace of business on the street.

They added that to introduce a HMO to the traditionally non-residential area of established businesses would not be in keeping with the conservation area.

Source: The Leader

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