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Hightown HMO plans rejected after residents warn of impact on their community

Plans to create a six-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Wrexham have been rejected after residents warned it would tear their community apart.

Proposals were submitted to Wrexham Council to convert an existing house on Beechley Road in Hightown to accommodate a total of seven people.
However, after members of the authority’s planning committee carried out a site visit today, they chose to go against the advice of officers and refused the application. They were greeted at the property by members of the Beechley Road Residents’ Association carrying placards, including one which read ‘Don’t Turn Beechley Road Into A Ghetto’.

Neighbours raised a number of concerns about the plans, including issues over parking and fly tipping as a result of the six existing HMOs on the street.
They have previously presented a petition with 90 signatures against the development.

John Harding, chair of the association, said: “A line has to be drawn somewhere to ensure the quality of life of long term residents is maintained, and in our opinion this is where the line should be drawn.

“There has already been an adverse impact on house prices in the road as a result of decisions taken in the past by the planning department.

“This deterioration can only accelerate given the authority’s perceived plan of allowing properties in the road to become nothing more than cheap accommodation for short term residents and the problems they bring with them.

“We see this as a direct attack on our future and will do our utmost to prevent this from happening.”

After committee members returned to the Guildhall, they were told that the proposals complied with all of the council’s policies.

Chair Mike Morris warned that valid grounds would need to be found for refusal.

But several politicians voiced their frustration at the increasing number of HMOs, including the area’s councillor Graham Rogers, he said: “Having visited the site, and I know the site very well, my concerns are still on parking and the four spaces, the double yellow lines at a very busy junction, the speeds at excess of what they are supposed to be and 90 residents have signed a petition which we should take the cognisance of.”

He was supported by Cllr Paul Jones, who said: “It’s very disappointing that our planning policy and planning guidance is inflicting yet another HMO on a community in Wrexham. The area is not saturated with HMOs, but it’s going in the wrong direction. HMOs done in the wrong way cause considerable problems for that community.

“It will be the people in that community baring the consequences whichever way it goes.”

Cllr Rogers said the plans should be refused on the grounds of parking and access, despite being told the highways department had no issues.

His recommendation was backed by eight votes to four.

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).

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