Owner's hopes of building flat above shop dashed due to red tape rules – Leicestershire Live

There were also concerns that the access route to the rear of the proposed development would be unsafe
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A Leicester business owner who wanted to build a home above his place of work has been denied permission for the sake of hypothetical future occupants.
Mr Harvir Singh submitted plans to Leicester City Council’s planning department to build a flat over his business at 118 Evington Valley Road to cut down his morning commute to work.
He hoped to turn part of the first floor and the second floor of the building into a three-bed flat.
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However, planning officers had recommended the plans be rejected as the section of the first floor that was to remain in industrial use could result in unacceptable noise levels for the flat.
Councillor Misbah Batool, representative of Spinney Hills Ward, spoke on behalf of the applicant at this week’s Planning and Development Control Committee, where the proposal was discussed.
She said: “If this planning application is approved, my constituent will be living at the same place where he works in the ground floor of the building which is a clothing shop.
“He wants to save the time it takes to travel from home to work or from work to home.
“National planning policy also says ‘promote and support the development of underutilised land and buildings, especially if this will help to meet identified need for housing’.
“The same policy says ‘allow for flexible working arrangements such as live/work accommodation and to enable rapid responses to change in economic circumstances’. That applies in my constituent’s application.
“It clearly indicates that within this context the size, type and tenure of housing need of different groups in the community should be assessed and reflected in the planning policies, including those who require affordable housing, families with children, older people, students, people with disabilities and people wishing to commission or build there own homes.”
However, the council said it has a duty to all possible future occupants of the flat, not just the occupants for whom it would have been designed.
Currently, the first floor is disused office space, but the council said the nature of its licence means it ‘has the potential for full industrial use’ without needing planning permission.
This would mean that, if Mr Singh were to sell, it could be used for heavy industrial purposes and any hypothetical future occupants of the flat would have to contend with the resulting noise.
The council officer said: “There is still a strong emphasis on ensuring that the residential amenity of future occupiers can be assured and noise and disturbance is certainly a significant factor in that respect.”
Committee member and Knighton Ward councillor, Lynn Moore, added: “I can see the point absolutely. The present applicant can move in and have a lovely time in that flat, but should he choose to sell at some point in the future, that’s the risk, isn’t it?
“That somebody can then move into that unit on the first floor and then run some kind of grinding shop or heavy machinery which would actually disadvantage the present applicant because he wouldn’t be able to sell it.”
The planning officer also highlighted concerns that the back access into the proposed flat would be shared with other industrial units, which was deemed to be unsafe.
He said: “There is also a concern that arrangements need to be safe and practical in a highways safety sense too.
“The secondary access does take you through to a service yard before taking you through to the access to the flat.
“We measured it out to be approximately a 90 metre journey, so our concern, particularly with things like bins, is this a long and potentially unsafe and impractical route out.”
The committee voted to reject the applications, with seven votes to one.
A previous version of this article read 'Councillor Vandeviji Pandya, representative of Evington Ward, spoke on behalf of the applicant'. This should have read 'Councillor Misbah Batool, representative of Spinney Hills Ward'.
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