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Plans for ‘urban sanctuary’ in Hucknall criticised as ‘not ideal’

Plans to turn a town’s town hall into shared housing have been labelled ‘not ideal’.

The proposal is to retain the existing Old Public Town Hall building in Hucknall and create four houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) units, making up 19 bedrooms.

The building was most recently used as a café, vape shop and vape lounge, which dates back to 1875.

But the area’s councillor has said that the space, which he feels is in a good location, could be better used.

Councillor Jim Blagden, who represents the Hucknall Central ward, said: “I have really preferred it to be flats rather than a HMO.

“It would be ideal for individual, separate flats, those would be better but there is a push at the moment for HMOs in Hucknall.”

Developers have said there is a need for affordable accommodation in the town and that the building is ideally located to fulfil this need.

Mr Blagden added: “It is good for the shops and businesses to have more people living there though.

“Shared accommodation is less than ideal though – it is 2022 and should have individual flats for people so that they can have their own space.”

Each of the bedrooms will be be equipped with a private en-suite and communal spaces will also be provided for residents.

East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Following a series of major developments, Hucknall is one of the region’s quickest-growing towns and is benefiting from an influx of new shops, bars, cafés and restaurants as a result.

“Direct impacts of the pandemic on cities have also led many people to move to surrounding towns, which is creating more demand for living accommodation.

“It is encouraging to see investors willing to buy into Hucknall town centre with unique residential developments that will bring new residents who can help to sustain these businesses, as well as others that will likely follow.

“A healthy mixture of living, working, shopping and leisure facilities will underpin the future of the most successful towns and cities.”

As part of the plans, there would be a private garden area for the residents to relax in, with developers calling the proposal an ‘urban sanctuary’ due to the planned addition of habitats for insects and foraging for birds on bike and storage units and a bat box.

In a planning document, The Planning Group Limited on behalf of applicant Jingyi Yang, said: “In the accompanying plans and documents, officers and members are requested to support the application which will not only provide additional sustainable housing but will also protect the future of this historic building in the Conservation Area for the foreseeable future.

The application is currently pending consideration by Ashfield District Council.

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