King Street flats set for greenlight despite concerns it is ‘yet another substandard conversion of former retail premises’ in town centre
Plans to convert former town centre office space into flats could be approved next week despite concerns over the quality of the proposed redevelopment – which includes one ground floor bedroom not having a window.
The application for 43 King Street proposes that three one bedroom flats are created on the ground floor, along with one two bedroom flat and a one bedroom flat on the first floor.
However concerns have been raised by Wrexham Civic Society, which has described the application as “yet another of several substandard ones for domestic conversion of former retail premises in the town centre.”
The Civic Society has also questioned the size of the proposed development, stating: “The proposal of five units is far too intensive.
“The building is detached but the space to the building on the right is not much more than a foot and this must account for there being no window shown in a ground floor bedroom – no daylight (which would be minimal anyway) and no ventilation.
“Two flats on the ground floor have windows opening out into bin storage areas. Three bedroom are so small there appears to be no space for storage.
They also highlight that the development is within the Grosvenor Road Conservation Area, and list several “design issues”.
The submission states, “The proposed front elevation alters the proportions of the windows considerably by raising the cill level. The two existing frontage entrance doors have been changed to incorporate opening windows directly onto the public forecourt: if these were to be viable they would have to be sliding sash and not as shown.
“The upper three windows on the façade are horned wood sliding sash, Victorian style, which fit in well with the building style, and although there appears to be no proposals to change these, they should be secondary double glazed without recourse to external uPVC.
They offer a possible solution, “Could not the Council give back some of the over-wide pavement here to provide forecourt space?”
The society adds: “Although there would be no objection to going back to residential use, the above points highlight the shortcomings of the proposal, showing that it is poorly designed for a conservation area, and as a residential scheme is far too intensive, resulting in severely restricted accommodation.
A number of planning applications for similar in the town centre have been put forward recently, with calls for the introduction of new standards for the size of apartments and amenity space.
However in a report due before councillors next week it has been recommended that delegated authority is given the Chief Officer Planning and Regulatory to grant planning permission.
This would be based on “confirmation by Public Protection that the noise report demonstrates that an acceptable standard of amenity will be afforded to the occupiers of the development subject to the conditions below and any other conditions should noise mitigation be judged necessary.”
In his report Lawrence Isted, chief officer planning and regulatory, said: “Two of the ground floor units will have lounge windows facing directly onto King Street which will result in overlooking from passing pedestrians and vehicles.
“Nevertheless, residential properties fronting onto a footpath or road is not unusual in an urban context, indeed there are many examples of developments that front either directly onto the footpath elsewhere on the edges of the town centre.
“I am not aware this necessarily unduly compromises the standard of amenity afforded to ground floor occupiers.
“Furthermore, the council has no policy or adopted guidance which requires habitable rooms on ground floors to be located a minimum distance from a footway or where a ground floor is located close to a footway, for it to be occupied by non-residential uses.
“Three out of the five flats will have windows in the side elevation at distances of between 2.5 metres and 7 metres from the side election of no.41 King Street.
“One ground floor flat will also have a rear facing bedroom window that faces towards a wall that encloses the rear boundary of the site, approximately 7m away. Whilst the distances are less than LPGN21 recommends, however I do not consider this to be a valid reason to refuse permission in this instance.
“If LPGN21 were rigidly applied to conversion schemes then it would severely inhibit opportunities to re-use existing buildings. Within a town centre location, buildings are at higher densities that elsewhere and as such it is appropriate for there to be a degree of flexibility in applying LPGN21, particularly as it is guidance rather than a fixed standard.
“Furthermore it is likely that those who wish to live in a town centre location would appreciate that available accommodation offers a different standard of amenity to a property in a more suburban location.
“The internal layout results in one ground floor flat having bedroom without a window and another with a bedroom window facing onto the access between nos. 41 and 43, which is only 2.5m wide. To ensure both rooms benefit from natural daylight, the internal walls will have high level glazed panels.”
The application will be considered by councillors for approval at a virtual meeting on Monday 12 April at 4pm. The meeting will also be available for the public to view via the Wrexham Council website.
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