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Decision time for controversial plans to convert former Wavertree pub

Controversial plans to turn a former Wavertree High Street pub into supported accommodation could be approved next week.

Purpose built as a police station in 1879, the building was later occupied by a dancing school in the 1970s, Villa Rossa Restaurants in the 1980s, Cuffs Bar during 1990s/2000s and most recently by Pound Pub.

During an 8 January meeting Liverpool City Council’s planning committee will consider proposals by Vitality Homes to create accommodation for people who have completed or are attending a drug recovery programme and those who have been released from prison.

A total of 17 bedrooms with communal living space as well as a meeting room, office and retrospective permission for changes to the windows of the Wavertree Village Conservation Area building are included in the plans.

If given the go ahead, trained staff would work at the accommodation and offer support packages and key sessions for service users.

According to a document to be considered by the planning committee, 500 objections including three petitions from neighbours have been received, highlighting a range of concerns including the impact the facility will have on crime and disorder in the area, the proximity to primary schools and children, the use of the building and the effects of the window alterations on the building’s character.

Local councillor Clare McIntyre has also objected, raising concerns about another HMO (house in multiple occupation), the amount of people to be housed and the size of the rooms, and the impact within the community.

The report explains that a statement by the applicant addresses the appropriateness of the use within the area, adding: “The pub has been vacant since May 2018 and it is noted that there is an open public houses within close proximity to the site, namely the Prince Alfred. As such, as a result of the loss of the pub it is not considered that there is a current or future demonstrable need or demand for the space which could not be adequately accommodated within the nearby use.

“Further to this, whilst the use of the property for supported accommodation is not a retail or commercial use, it is acknowledged that it would bring pedestrian activity to a part of the High Street which has had a declining retail offer and footfall within recent years.

“The re-use of the pub would also bring a vacant and unused building on the High Street back into use, which in turn would contribute to the vitality and vibrancy of the locality.”

Meanwhile a management plan has been submitted with the application stating the facility’s “complete support package” provision for service users, and that it would not accept anyone with ‘Risk to Children’ status and convictions of a sexual offence or arson; and a range of security measures including monitored internal and external CCTV has also been stated.

The planning document suggests that the proposed rooms are also of a “reasonable size and functionality”.

Recommending the application for approval subject to conditions, the report concludes: “The head of planning considers that the change of use of the property to supported accommodation for 17 people be appropriate in this district centre location and that it would not unduly impact upon the amenity of neighbouring residents or the character of the area.

“She also considers that the proposed changes to the windows to be acceptable within the conservation area.”