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TOO SMALL: Plan to convert bank into flats rejected

TOO SMALL: Plan to convert bank into flats rejected

Image: LDRS

Plans to convert a former bank into flats barely bigger than two parking spaces have been rejected.

Developer Mick McKenna had proposed converting the old RBS building in Prescot High Street into nine flats, saying the apartments would be “top of the shop”.

But planning officers at Knowsley Council refused planning permission on Tuesday (January 26), saying the flats were too small and did not have enough windows.

In a notice refusing permission for the development, a council planner said: “The proposed development would fail to provide a good or high standard of amenity to future occupants…due to the size and layout of a number of the proposed apartments and the poor outlook from a number of main habitable rooms that only benefit from one window.”

Only one of the proposed flats met the government’s recommended minimum standard for floor space of 37m2.

The other flats ranged from 31m2 down to 28m2. With a standard UK parking space measuring 11.5m2, the smallest flats would be barely bigger than two parking spaces.

The small size of the flats attracted criticism from both Prescot Town Council and members of the public, one of whom said the rooms “hark back to Victorian slums”.

In a report, the council’s planning officer agreed with these concerns, saying: “The proposed apartments do not include sufficient space for storage, only provide limited space around furniture and do not allow for a degree of flexibility in the way that rooms can be used which the current pandemic has emphasised the importance of with more people being expected to work from home and generally concentrate the vast majority of their activities in one place.”

The planning officer added that four of the flats had “main habitable rooms” with only one window looking out onto either an alleyway or the walls of neighbouring buildings.

The former bank has been empty for around two years and the planning officer did note that allowing it to be converted into flats would “enable the re-use of a vacant building” and “represent an investment in the borough”.

However, he concluded these “limited benefits” would not outweigh the lack of space future residents would have to endure.

Words: Chris McKeon, Local Democracy Reporter

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