Controversial 143-bed city 'flatshare' rejected by planners

Plans submitted to turn Norwich city centre buildings into 143 bed HMO

Planners reject project to turn city centre building into 143 bed HMO - Credit: George Thompson

Plans for a 143-bed 'flatshare' in the centre of Norwich have been rejected over concerns about the living condition it would offer.

An application to convert two buildings at the junction of Westlegate and St Stephens Street into a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) drew a series of objections from neighbours also concerned about noise and privacy impacts.

The buildings - one called Westlegate and the other the Boar's Head, after a tavern that once stood on the site - have shops on the ground floor, but under the plans would have had accommodation built above.

HMOs are properties shared by several different tenants, who all rent rooms and have access to a communal space. The Westlegate plans were set to be arranged in clusters of rooms with shared kitchens.

Property developer JaeVee wanted to convert the space above the ground floor into housing, with the addition of a two-storey extension and rooftop bar or restaurant area. 

The Old Boars Head on Surrey Street was a 15th century building Photo: Archant

The Old Boars Head on Surrey Street was a 15th century building Photo: Archant

The plans also included a range of onsite amenities, including a gym, library, cinema room, games room and coffee lounge. 

The application was rejected by planning officers on Friday and did not go before councillors.

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In her report, planning officer Maria Hammond said: "The vast 143 bedroom HMO would provide a poor standard of amenity and living conditions for occupiers and the full impact on neighbouring occupiers cannot be assessed without further information, including a noise impact assessment.

"Fire safety, flood risk, impacts on protected species and the ability of the site to provide renewable/low carbon energy can also not be fully assessed."

Ms Hammond said there was insufficient space for meeting all the needs of occupiers and the size of the development could impact on characteristics and appearance on surroundings, which includes heritage assets, including listed buildings like Marble Hall, the Aviva headquarters situated nearby.

The Boar's Head after the Blitz. Source: Local Recall/localrecall.co.uk

The Boar's Head after the Blitz. Source: Local Recall/localrecall.co.uk - Credit: Archant Library

Objections to the plans came from 12 neighbours, including the chairman of the Westlegate Residents Association (WTRA) and Aviva. 

One neighbour said they were already having troubles sleeping due to noise in the area and excessive noise could worsen their existing health condition. 

They said: "This application puts my health and sanity at severe risk as it will inevitably lead to the congregation of revellers directly opposite my bedroom window." 

Kamal Giwa, writing on behalf of Aviva, said it could block their light and allow people to see into their offices. 

Sam Sterry, head of acquisition at JaeVee, said the firm would be reviewing the officer's comments and will submit a new application with the additional information required.

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