Site of former Seacombe furniture store could become 36-bedroom HMO

A former furniture store and a pharmacy targeted by arsonists could be turned into a 36 bedroom house of multiple occupation (HMO).

The HMO is proposed at the old Jacksons Furniture on St Paul’s Road in Seacombe. Navkar Properties is seeking to demolish the current building and replace it with a new build HMO.

The plans are up for approval at a Wirral Council planning committee meeting on 11 October. This is because Wirral Council’s leader Cllr Paul Stuart has called it in arguing it is “not in keeping with the character of the area and there is an over-proliferation of HMOs locally.”

This means it will go to the planning committee as only four people objected to the proposal. Concerns raised by objectors, including the size, who might be living in the HMO, and the fact the building is on a school route.

A design and access statement for the planning application said on 31 January, 2022 “there was an arson attack on the building which caused significant damage to the roof structure, floors, and walls.” This has left the building unsafe and needing to be demolished.

The statement report added, “The building has been designed to positively contribute to the area, combining an industrial aesthetic with a domestic scale.

“The design references the architectural style of the local context through the corrugated metal roof with standing seam and rounded gable form whilst the two storey bay windows, and red clay brickwork nods towards the wider local materiality.”

Each unit will have a communal kitchen and dining area, toilet, and living room with all bedrooms on first and second floors.

An officer report for the committee has suggested councillors approve the development, adding, “the proposed building is considered to be of a suitable scale to provide sufficient living accommodation for future occupiers.”

The report added that while the development would mean a change of use from being previously commercial, “it is not one that would detrimentally impact the area and neighbouring properties given the specific historic and locational context.

“The site is currently in a state of disrepair and therefore the positive benefits of redeveloping the site for an active use is given significant weight.”

A previous application for potentially more than 40 residents has already been given permission which officers said would have had more of an impact on the area than the current proposed.

Responding to the concerns raised about HMOs in the area, the report said, “There are no other licensed HMOs within the immediate vicinity and therefore it is not considered that this scheme would result in an overconcentration of such uses, although the large number of HMO bedrooms proposed here is acknowledged.”

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The site as it appeared in August 2022. Image: GOOGLE