Controversial HMO rejected by Wigan councillors due to health and safety concerns

Plans for a controversial house in Leigh that was “a concern for health and safety” has been rejected.
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The plan for a five-bed house of multiple occupation (HMO) in Manchester Road would have seen a building that currently houses a takeaway and hairdresser flattened and replaced, which raised objections from 35 people.

Applicant Osman Gulum wanted to retain the retail units and have the residential space on the first floor, above the two shops. The bedrooms, which are also classed as living areas for the residents, would be nine square metres in size and have access to one kitchen and two bathrooms.

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Wigan Council’s Planning Committee decided that increased dangers for school children with added cars to an ‘extremely busy road’ were enough to refuse the application.

The premises on Manchester Road which the applicant had hoped to turn into an HMOThe premises on Manchester Road which the applicant had hoped to turn into an HMO
The premises on Manchester Road which the applicant had hoped to turn into an HMO

Coun John Harding, who lives a short distance away from the site, told the town hall chamber how there are children going to two schools and cars already pile up on the pavement. He believed this could create a safety hazard with children between cars being out of sight for drivers.

“At school times this is an extremely busy road,” Coun Harding said. “I raise the fact that cars are parked on the side of the road already which could mean that potentially people going in and out the shop will park up and nip in.

“I think this presents an increased risk in public safety. This is one the worst applications I have seen since I have sat on this committee in seven years.”

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Coun Harding echoed the words of his colleagues Coun Fred Walker and Coun Kath Houlton, who also had concerns regarding the access to the site. The construction would be done via access down a back alleyway, a planning officer told the committee – however Coun Harding claimed the alleyway was only “just able to fit a vehicle bigger than a car”.

A majority of the public objections related to the businesses themselves, with claims that construction time would have a detrimental effect on what they deem “vital” assets in the area.

Other concerns from members of the public highlighted that the HMO could overlook neighbouring properties and impact traffic during the construction phase of the project. Shortage of parking with only four spaces proposed, possible crime and anti-social behaviour, lack of demand for housing and impact on trees were also listed as potential problems by objectors.

Despite all these objections, councillors Gena Merrett and Jeanette Prescott both said there were no reasons in planning law for the committee to refuse this. Coun Merrett said many reasons for refusal discussed “have nothing to do with planning law”.

Nevertheless, when it came to a vote, they were beaten by eight votes to four in favour of refusal.

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