Proposals to build a four-storey apartment block on an “ugly” grot spot in Thatto Heath have been approved.
Langford Homes has drawn up plans to build an apartment block, made up 21, one-bedroom homes and nine, two-bedroom flats, on the former Royal British Legion site.
The brownfield site is located in a predominantly residential area, with St Matthews Grove to the north and east, Austin Avenue to the west and Scholes Lane to the south.
A total of 45 off-street parking spaces have been proposed, two of which would be disabled and all but 12 would be either undercroft parking or accessible via an open undercroft.
It is also proposed that the vehicular access on Scholes Lane will be closed off and a new vehicular access created to the rear of the site via St Matthews Grove.
St Helens Council’s planning committee heard the application at its meeting on Tuesday.
The council received eight objections to the proposals, covering a range of issues including design and appearance, the impact on neighbouring properties’ privacy and parking concerns.
Melanie Hale, the council’s service manager for development and building control, said in principle planning officers believe residential development of the site is acceptable.
She said the design and appearance of the development is different to the surroundings but not so out of character that they would warrant refusal.
Planning officers recommended planning permission be granted, subject to numerous conditions.
Thatto Heath councillor Richard McCauley, cabinet member for economic regeneration and housing, said he could not support the proposals as he believed it was the “wrong development on this site”.
The Labour councillor claimed one resident was brought to tears over the weekend while discussing the plans due to how overbearing the apartment block will be.
Coun McCauley also criticised the design of the building and expressed concerns about the impact of the development on the local infrastructure.
He said: “The actual design of it, it’s horrendous, I think. It’s four stories high, overlooking these people.
“And when you look at it, as best you can tell from the plans, it’s absolutely horrendous.
“So, there’s no way I’m going to be able to support this.”
Moss Bank councillor John Fulham branded the site “ugly” and said development was “overdue”.
He also praised planning officers for managing to secure a condition for 30 per cent of the development to be affordable housing.
Coun Andy Bowden, the former cabinet member for balanced development, housing and economic opportunity, said urged councillors to accept the development, warning that developers may turn to green sites.
He said: “We have a choice. We have to look to develop and maximise our use of brownfield sites in order to hit our housing numbers and meet the needs of our population and meet the needs of those who want housing.
“Or, and I’ve said it before, there’s an element of we go up or we go out.
“And the less that we look to develop on brownfield sites, the more that we have to look to greenfield and green belt land in the future.”
Planning permission was approved, subject to numerous conditions.
Coun McCauley and Coun Allan Jones, leader of the St Helens Conservative group, voted against the plans.
Thatto Heath councillor Robyn Hattersley, who arrived late for the meeting, abstained.