'Laughable' plan to extend block of flats in Weston rejected

PUBLISHED: 07:57 29 July 2019

North Somerset Council refused planning permission.

North Somerset Council refused planning permission.

BrianAJackson

'Laughable' plans to extend a block of flats in Weston have been rejected.

A scheme which would have seen a ninth flat added to a complex in Locking Road was turned down by North Somerset Council's planning committee on July 17, despite members being told it would improve safety and prevent homeless people lighting fires.

Applicant Richard Purgas said people living in the flats required hospital treatment after the last blaze having inhaled smoke.

He proposed building a ninth flat in the building to fill a space used as a bin store and for access - but councillors said gates would do the job just as well.

Mr Purgas said: "There have already been two fire attacks by homeless people trying to keep warm. Last time was very serious - residents had to be admitted to Weston General (Hospital) with smoke inhalation.

"I'm having great difficulty keeping homeless people and drug users away.

"This will bring three major benefits. It will make the place much safer for residents against any future fire attacks.

"It will stop homeless and drug users abusing the space, and it will create a compact ground floor accommodation close to town for an elderly couple."

A council planning officer raised concerns about flooding and road safety, and said a responsible owner would have attempted to secure the site.

Cllr John Ley-Morgan branded the proposals 'laughable', saying: "The proposal is to stop a rough sleeper dossing down in there.

"A pair of gates would do the trick."

Cllr Robert Payne said the flat would be too small for two people to live in and there was an oversupply of one-bed properties in the area.

He said the 'ad hoc' parking arrangements were also unsuitable.

Cllr Richard Westwood described the proposals as 'eccentric' but said an alternative scheme could work in the space.

The committee voted to refuse the application.

Mr Purgas, afterwards, said: "All I'm trying to do is make it safe. The two options are to brick it up or make something from it.

"Maybe a single-person accommodation would be more suitable.

"Think of Grenfell Tower. If there were cars in there and there had been an explosion there would have been mayhem."

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