Former Conservative Party HQ in Bridgwater town centre to become HMO as plans approved

Proposed site of eight-bed HMO at 16 Northgate in Bridgwater
-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)

The former headquarters of Bridgwater's Conservative Party will be turned into housing following a decision by local councillors. The Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency party had its headquarters at 16 Northgate until March, when its personnel relocated in light of the boundary changes brought in ahead of the current general election campaign.

Ed James applied in late-February to convert the building into a home of multiple occupancy (HMO), providing enough rooms for eight people with shared communal facilities (e.g. kitchen and bathroom). Somerset Council's planning committee north has unanimously backed these plans, arguing they will help to ease the local housing crisis.

The HMO lies between the former Sedgemoor District Council offices on King Square and the Northgate Yard leisure complex, which includes the town's cinema and bowling alley. While the site will only have minimal parking, the new residents will be within walking distance of the town centre's shops and other amenities - with improved cycling provision due to be delivered nearby in the coming months as part of the Bridgwater town deal.

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Councillor Kathy Pearce (one of two Labour councillors for the Bridgwater South division, which includes the site) spoke in favour of the plans when the council's planning committee north met mere yards from the proposed development on June 11. She said: "I'm pleased to see the addition of the bin store.

"It's on the main road going through the town, and it's important that it looks neat and tidy." Councillor Alastair Hendry (Highbridge and Burnham South) said: "The rooms in that building are actually quite spacious and they do lend themselves to a residential purpose.

"If no-one is going to turn this back into a residential house, this is the next best thing for it." Councillor Brian Bolt (Cannington) agreed: "This is a building that needs some form of development before it gets totally dilapidated.

"It's providing accommodation within the town centre area, which we've always screamed out about." The committee voted unanimously to approve the plans after less than 20 minutes' debate.

The complete list of candidates standing in the new Bridgwater constituency at the general election on July 5 is as follows: