Row breaks out over home owner's plans to convert flats into one house

Picture: LDRS
Picture: LDRS

A property owner has submitted an appeal to overturn a council decision to stop a controversial home conversion in Linthorpe.

At the planning committee meeting in July, residents cheered and hugged as councillors refused to give the go-ahead for three flats to be turned into one home with five single-occupancy rooms. Tenants would share a kitchen/diner, utility room and lounge at the Queens Road property.

However, the happiness of the opposers could be short-lived if the planning inspectorate chooses to side with property owners Kath Lockwood and Eduardo Duque.

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Politicians defied council officers, who believed the plans should be approved, as they thought the scheme would cause parking chaos in the area as there are already too many cars.

However, Ms Lockwood argued the scheme could actually decrease the number of tenants and mean fewer cars. She claims that the three flats could have all included couples which could have meant six cars, whereas the five rooms in the proposed property would all be for just one person.

It is understood that the appeal to the planning inspectorate will be on that basis. It is not known yet when the appeal will be concluded but final comments are due by November 21 2022. Ms Lockwood said there is a need for high-quality low-cost homes that house multiple tenants.

Prior to July’s meeting, Independent Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston lodged his objections and Labour Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald urged the council to consider the concerns of local residents. There were also 42 letters of objection submitted by neighbours.

In his objection letter, Mr Preston said: “The introduction of HMOs in this part of Linthorpe will, I fear, rapidly change the nature of the whole area and ultimately bring about a widespread decline in this part of Middlesbrough. In turn, this would lead to increased middle-class flight to outer suburbs and cause some of central Middlesbrough’s shocking demographic problems to spread to and ultimately dominate Linthorpe.”

Queens Road resident Stephen Bloomfield said there were a lot of issues with the application. He added: “HMOs are already having a massive impact on the quality of our life and they need to be stopped. If you refuse planning permission today, then you will send a clear message to investors.”

Labour’s Cllr Theo Furness, who represents Park ward, has previously said that flats, where tenants change regularly, can affect the character of the area and potentially make it “turn bad really fast”.

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