Planning granted to transform historic New Brighton building into energy-efficient apartments

An extension that will “tremendously” improve an apartment block once a pub and hotel has been given the go-ahead.

Montpellier Mansions sits between Montpellier Crescent and Albion Street in New Brighton. Built in 1835, it used to be the Albion Hotel and Pub which closed in the early 2000s and was later converted into 14 flats in 2006.

The extension would see the floor area of the building increase but the number of flats drop by one providing larger flats with better energy efficiency.

A Wirral Council planning committee report recommended the development for approval calling it “a high-quality series of extensions and alterations which represent an enhancement to the existing building.” It was approved by councillors unanimously on 17 August.

A statement attached to the application by Paul Brett from Luxury Homes said, “The existing building is in much need of renovation and restoration in terms of the external materials and the internal layout and condition of the current flats.

“The flats are poorly laid out, do not comply with minimal space standards are in great need of modernising to meet today’s standards of living.”

Mr Brett told the committee the application would improve the building, had received many positive comments, would complement the regeneration of New Brighton, and improve energy efficiency. Some of the flats currently have an EPC rating of E.

The plans faced objections from 26 people in the form of a petition. The threshold to bring the application to the council committee is 25.

Ten responses were also received which protested against the “excessive height,” that the design was “out of keeping with the character of the area,” and would lead to an “increase in pollution and noise.”

Objectors also considered it to be an overdevelopment. The council’s report pointed out that as the number of flats would be decreasing, it didn’t consider this to be the case.

One neighbour, Gabrielle Simpson, objected to the plans over the loss of privacy in her garden from a new balcony as well as losing daylight and sunlight in her house. She disagreed entirely with the officer report and argued the development could have a wider impact including on the current tenants.

She said to councillors, “Decisions have consequences. With this comes responsibility.”

However, councillors were satisfied the plans would not impact the area and pointed out that because it is in an urban area, some windows will have a view into neighbour’s gardens arguing “it is an improvement on what we have got at the moment.”

Cllr Kathy Hodson said, “I think it’s a very significant improved design. It’s nice to see the developers have decided to improve the existing building rather than demolish it.”

Concerns were also raised at the committee meeting about issues with the council’s planning portal with committee chair Stuart Kelly calling it “cr**.” A backlog was created after the council moved to a new IT system in June 2022 which meant the council couldn’t validate applications for several weeks.

Though a committee report said performance had improved, issues still remained and extensions were being made to meet targets. Cllr Kelly said, “Get it fixed from the planning committee. We can’t go on with this rubbish for much longer,” adding, “We are paying money for this. It’s not free.”

In response, council officer Steven Lacey said the council was in discussions with the government and things were improving. He said the last six months “have been the most challenging six months we have had as a department” as it dealt with several major appeals, the Leverhulme inquiry and the Local Plan hearings.

The council also revealed it has agency staff at a senior level as it has struggled to fill vacancies. Mr Lacey said, “It’s not something we would like to have to rely on because it’s costly and because of the council’s current budget position.”

Main image: GOOGLE

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Artist’s impression of the Albion Street elevation
The Albion Street elevation, as is
Artist’s impression of the Montpellier Crescent elevation
The Montpellier Crescent elevation, as is.
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