Critics slam more bedsits decision

PUBLISHED: 23:46 03 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:36 03 March 2010

IT WAS a close call … but officials have today given approval for more bedsits at Felixstowe, despite councillors branding them the "slums of the future".

IT WAS a close call … but officials have today given approval for more bedsits at Felixstowe, despite councillors branding them the "slums of the future".

Council officers were also asked to revise the standards for bedsits and houses in multiple occupation after concerns that the authority's agreed minimum standards were not good enough for people to live in.

Felixstowe councillor Colin Bentley tried to get the plan to put five more bedsits into the old gym on the corner of Constable and Gainsborough Roads refused but lost by five votes to four.

Even though it was not happy with the scheme, Suffolk Coastal's development control sub committee decided it had no option but to approve it because it met minimum council standards and the council would probably lose an appeal.

Residents had sent in letters of objection and a 30-signature petition claiming the area was already choked with cars parked on pavements and leaving the roads too narrow for sometimes even the dustcart to collect the rubbish.

Councillors expressed similar concerns but were also deeply concerned about the layout of the five ground-floor bedsits in the building, which already has eight on upper floors without permission and which do not meet current regulations.

Mr Bentley said it was "a total over-intensification of the site" and the whole building needed totally upgrading.

"The town council is appalled that this is likely to go through. Five more in there is just too much," he said.

Councillor John Leggett said single-person accommodation was badly needed but the council was agreeing to "the slums of tomorrow", while councillor John Hammond said it was "gross overcrowding and like prison cells".

Councillor Mary Dixon felt the bedsits were pokey and called for the council's policy on space, noise insulation, lighting and other standards for houses in multiple occupation to revised to improve accommodation.

Assistant director of planning, Bob Chamberlain said talks would be held with the housing department about upgrading the standards.

However, under the current policies – both on space, layout and noise possible disturbance to tenants in the building – the conversion met all the council's standards, if only just.

This meant the council would have difficulty defending a refusal if the applicant appealed to a government-appointed inspector.

Although not enough car parking could be provided off-street, the government would also consider the property close enough to the town centre for people not to bother owning cars because they could walk or use public transport.

The sub committee also approved plans for a property in adjoining Felix Road to be converted into three self-contained flats after it heard that eight car parking spaces could be provided off-street for the property and a neighbouring one.

Residents had again objected because of the severe parking congestion.


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