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Green light for former Norwich MJB hotel to become shared housing for 26 people

PUBLISHED: 13:21 12 April 2018 | UPDATED: 19:42 12 April 2018

Bristol House in Unthank Road. Picture: Denise Bradley

Bristol House in Unthank Road. Picture: Denise Bradley

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A former Norwich hotel is to be turned into a housing scheme shared by 26 people - but one councillor said the community would end up ruing the day permission was granted.

Members of Norwich City Council’s planning committee voted by five to three, with two abstentions, to grant permission for the conversion of Bristol House, in Unthank Road.

Last September, Ben James, the new owner of Bristol House and The Lodge, also on Unthank Road, announced he planned to invest £600,000 in each property.

While under the ownership of the MJB group, both properties had been the source of complaints about drug taking and prostitution.

But Mr James had said that would change and he was looking to attract a “different type” of clientele, with shared living spaces for people wanting to rent.

His initial proposal, for a 27-bedroom home, with a gym, cinema room and communal areas was rejected by the planning committee in February.

They said it would not provide high quality amenity for residents.

But today, a revised application, with one fewer room, a bigger communal area and improved lighting was granted permission.

Mr James’s planning agent Mark Philpot, of Norwich-based One Planning Consultants, said the applicant had given careful consideration to the previous rejection and had made revisions.

Denise Carlo, Green city councillor for Nelson ward, attempted to raise concerns about the applicant, but was told by committee chairman, Labour’s Keith Driver, that was not relevant to determining the planning application.

Officers said a management plan had been provided setting out security and serving, with a community manager on site at least one day a week.

Liberal Democrat James Wright, who represents Eaton, said he did not think enough had changed since the previous, rejected application but Lakenham councillor Mr Driver said he thought improvements had been made.

Ms Carlo, who voted against the proposal, said: “I believe the local community will rue the day, given the history of the company and the applicant.”

Following the meeting, Mr James did not want to comment on what Ms Carlo had said.

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