July 22 2014 Latest news:
By Matthew Gooding
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Plans to convert a office block into 36 flats have been likened to a prison camp by a councillor.
The Maltings Ltd, who own the Maltings in Green Drift, Royston, want to change the vacant building into 24 two-bedroom and 12 one-bedroom flats.
New government legislation means they don’t need change of use permission for the site, but members of Royston Town Council’s planning committee were not impressed by the design of the flats.
Cllr Lynn Berry, chairman of the planning committee, said the development would be “like a stalag” - the German term for a prisoner of war camp.
And Cllr F John Smith added: “These ought to be described as cells rather than flats.”
At its meeting on Monday, the committee vowed to raise its opposition to the scheme on grounds of insufficient parking provision, as well as health and safety fears about the design.
Cllr Elizabeth Freman said: “It looks like a rabbit warren, there are so many flats in there. I know we should be encouraging people to cycle, and it’s right next to the station, but there are only 24 parking spaces for 36 flats.
“All the others will be out parking on Green Drift.”
And Cllr John Davison said: “Planning guidance says there should be 60 spaces for 36 flats. We already have problems round there with commuters who park on the road to avoid paying the charges at the station car park, and this would make it worse.
“I think we should object on the grounds of parking, and the health and safety aspect ought to be look at too. There’s only one way to access the site, and it’s effectively in a long, narrow, cutting.”
In their application, the developers state that they want to change the use of the building because the vast majority of the offices have been vacant since 2012. The application states that just 10 per cent of the building is currently in use.