Hundreds oppose bedsit plans for former Derbyshire medical centre
Plans to turn a former Derbyshire GP surgery into a bedsit are set for approval despite more than 400 objections.
The plans relate to the former Darley Dale Medical Centre on the corner of Columbell Way and Chesterfield Road.
A new medical centre – including a GP surgery and pharmacy – has been built around 100 metres away, off the A6 through Darley Dale, leaving its former home vacant.
Applicant Ben Briant now aims to turn the former medical centre into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) for 12 people.
However, 420 residents have signed a petition opposing the development, with no specific reasons for their opposition, while 64 residents have written formal objection letters.
Derbyshire Dales District Council is set to decide on the plans on Tuesday, August 13.
Planning officers for the council have recommended that the plans are approved.
Residents fear that the HMO is not a suitable use for the site, arguing it would be better placed in Derby or Nottingham.
Residents also fear disruption from the potentially raucous occupants of the bedsits, who they also suggest could be “ex-offenders, alcoholics and drug addicts who have mental health difficulties”.
The proposed plans include eight single-person bedsits and two twin rooms, designed for couples.
A shared kitchen, toilet and showed would be available for the single rooms, while the twin rooms will have their own kitchen and shower.
Each room would have a double bed, a table, lounge chair, drawers, wardrobe, kettle, crockery, cutlery and other kitchenware.
The site has 14 car parking spaces, which would all be retained, while a 10 spaces will also be created for bikes.
In a letter submitted with the application, Mr Briant said: “If l may sum up the concept of this proposed dwelling: it will offer safe, secure and affordable rental accommodation, to both able and disabled people, in a socially friendly environment, of a high standard, approved in principle by the HMO and fire officers, offering every conceivable fire, health and safety protection, with a daily cleanliness routine second to none, and managed by a family team with a proven track record.
“Notwithstanding that there is a clear need for this type of accommodation locally. l sincerely hope that this presentation gives every confidence that we – the Briant family – are fit and proper people to provide it.”
Mr Briant claims that his father, Mike, was the “first person” to recognise the HMO potential beyond that of often much lower grade, student accommodation.
He says: “He recognised that, when it came to accommodation, many young working people – blue collar, semi and professional – were simply not catered for.”
The letter says that Mike Briant had bought and converted the former Nottingham Eye Hospital into 60 HMO units for young single people, followed by further large and conversions and a flurry of small-scale conversions.
The applicant says that the rent for the bedsits would be affordable – at a proposed £350 per month with all bills included, along with council tax, daily cleaning, repairs and maintenance.
In response to fears over the potential residents of the HMO, Mr Briant said that he would put “many years of experience to good use” to research applicants and ask relevant questions of them to ascertain their suitability.
He said: “The answer to each one of these innocuous questions leads on to more questions until, using a sixth sense developed over many years, we feel we have a firm grip of their circumstances.”
Rules for the HMO, submitted with the application say: “We will not allow rowdy, drunken, excessive or unreasonable noise.
“Anyone caught dealing in, taking drugs, whether hard core or social, smoking cannabis, or taking any banned substance will have their bags packed and removed from the premises.
“Smoking anywhere inside the building (in your room or common areas) is expressly prohibited. If you cannot function without a cigarette, this place is not for you.”
Recommending that the plans are approved, district council officers wrote: “The site is in a sustainable location where residential development is normally supported.
“The proposals make good re-use of this building which has been made redundant by the improved replacement medical centre and will provide accommodation for a demographic of people who find it difficult to purchase or rent full properties.
“This will allow them the opportunity to have their own accommodation which may suit their needs.
“Whilst the proposals are clearly emotive, it is considered that the concerns raised may not materialise and some of the concerns raised could be of such concern for other forms of residential accommodation.”