An application to convert The Wheatsheaf pub in St Lawrence into one flat , a 4-bed house of multiple occupation (HMO) and a 5 bed HMO have been refused by Thanet council.
The High Street pub, which has been closed for more than two years, had previously been put up for sale but no buyer was found. It already has accommodation on the upper floor.
Applicant Estia Property Solutions Ltd wanted to convert the property to two Houses of Multiple Occupation and a one-bedroom flat.
Planning documents say: “The client wishes to put into use a building that was deemed unviable to continue as a public house for the minimum of the past two years and was put to sale since with no success of being purchased to the moment.
“The aim is to provide more accommodation in the area with professionals and keyworkers as the target audience.”
The proposal was for no alterations to be made to the exterior due to the property being a non designated heritage asset. The 4-bedroom HMO) would be split between ground floor and basement with the communal area and 4 single bedrooms at ground floor and the basement to be used for kitchen,u tility room, shower rooms and storage.
The 5-bedroom HMO would be split between ground floor and first floor with the communal area, one shower room and 2 single bedrooms to first floor and 3 single bedrooms, kitchen, dining and one shower room to ground floor.
The one-bedroom flat was planned for the first floor with private access from the ground floor.
Ten objections were received with concerns such as the pub only being marketed during the pandemic and overdevelopment.
Ramsgate Town Council objected saying: “ It is considered as overdevelopment of the site; it is considered an inappropriate location for the development; the loss of a public amenity and no clear evidence of the non-viability of the public house.”
In a report from Thanet council the planning officer says that although the loss of the public house would not conflict with policy in this case there were concerns over the standard of the accommodation.
The report says: “It is considered that the accommodation offered by the one bed flat is good and it would provide a good standard of accommodation for its future occupiers. Concerns are, however, raised about the living conditions for the future occupiers of the 2 proposed HMOs.
“The 4 bed HMO would have its kitchen located within the basement with limited light and ventilation with a large utility room and other non habitable rooms. The other communal areas for this unit (assumed to be the lounge and dining area) would be accessed directly from the street and appear more as a corridor through to the bedrooms and staircase, again with limited light and ventilation than an area where residents would wish to utilise. This would significantly reduce the amount of usable space in the main habitable area of the property, to serve 4 individuals.
“Concerns are raised about the fact that residents would have to take meals/drinks prepared in the kitchen up to the next floor to be either the communal area or their rooms and this may instead lead residents to utilise the basement as a dining area given its size and privacy (when compared against the ground floor communal area proposed to serve this HMO), despite the limited light and ventilation. Given this, it is considered that the communal areas of this unit are poor and do not provide a high standard of accommodation to serve future residents.
“Concerns are also raised about the standard of accommodation offered by bedroom 1 of this HMO given its ground floor location adjoining the accesses to other HMO and the flat unit as well as the yard containing bin and bike storage.
“Similar concerns are raised in relation to 5 bedroom HMO. There would be limited natural light and ventilation particularly to its kitchen and dining area, but also its lounge although that does have some light via a door to a small outdoor terrace area. The window to the dining area would also be at least partially blocked by the bike rack located in front of it again minimising light and ventilation and also outlook for future occupiers of the HMO. T
“he occupier of bedroom 3 of this HMO also has the potential to suffer from overlooking from people using the communal areas for bin, bike storage and access.”
Despite some amendments by the applicant, planning officers say they are “disappointed” that suggested measures were not taken.
The report concludes: “It is considered that the unacceptable future living conditions of the HMO are considered to significantly outweigh the modest economic and social benefits provided by a flat and 2 HMOs.”