Plans for 36 bed HMO in Seacombe rejected

Wirral’s council leader said police were once called to a site that could have become a 36-bed house of multiple occupation (HMO).

Cllr Paul Stuart was speaking against a proposal to build a 36-bed HMO on St Paul’s Road in Seacombe. The HMO was proposed at the old Jacksons Furniture on St Paul’s Road with the old building demolished.

The plans were unanimously rejected by Wirral Council’s planning committee on 11 October. This was due to the number of HMOs in the plans which councillors argued would be in breach of current council planning policy that states no more than 20% of housing are HMOs in an area.

It had been up for approval and only four people were against the plans but Cllr Stuart had called it into the committee over concerns it was “not in keeping with the character of the area and there is an over-proliferation of HMOs locally.”

Cllr Stuart said he’d called it in because of concerns of residents and as councillor dating back years. He said there’s been disputes with contractors and “nothing but problems at this site.”

According to the council leader, this was “to the point some of our council officers didn’t feel safe in the area when I had to call them in for the condition of the building.” He said he understood police had even been called to the site.

Harry Johnson, an agent for the developer said all feedback had been carefully considered and would “result in a high-quality scheme that will make a positive contribution to the street scene, housing stock and local community.” He also pointed to a contribution to the Birkenhead-Liscard cycle route that would be made and cycle storage.

The development would have contributed over £19,800 or £550 per dwelling to the new active travel route. This was estimated to be the cost of a 25m parking bay that would have been required if not for the cycle lane plans.

Concerns were raised by Cllr Kathy Hodson about parking issues in the area, adding, “This is only just going to push the problem further down the road.” She also questions why the council needs the developer contribution given the council’s received millions in funding for cycle lanes.

However Cllr Stuart Kelly warned the council had previously rejected applications for similar reasons around parking and it had been overturned on appeal. He urged councillors “not to overstate the numbers and get back to what’s likely to happen,” adding: “We have done it and had our fingers burnt.”

A planning application for six self-contained studio apartments and two HMOs for 15 beds had previously been approved.

Image: Perspective view from south-west for St Paul’s Road HMO plans in Seacombe. Credit: Drome Architects

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