A plan to turn a pub in the town centre into a house of multiple occupation (HMO) was refused by Bolton Council.

The applicant, a Mr Ahmed, applied for planning permission for the site of the Star and Garter at the end of last year.

The plan was to turn the pub on the corner of Bow Street and Back Bridge Street, which closed in 2022, into a HMO with four bedrooms on the bottom floor, four bedrooms on the middle floor and five bedrooms on the top floor. There was a proposal for a rooftop terrace accessible from the middle floor.

The applicant said it would be a big boost to the area in terms of putting the site of the Star and Garter back into use and to the authorities in terms of providing places for more than a dozen people at a time when the housing supply is short of its target.

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On February 16, however, it was refused by the council on the basis of a lack of consideration for the St George's Conservation Area and a lack of living standards for the residents who would have only four square metres of shared space per person.

The applicant is allowed to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate as long as he does so within six months of the decision.

It said: "The delivery of low-cost housing at a time of undersupply is capable of being attributed significant weight in the planning balance, however, the benefits to housing provision are dependent on the quality of the accommodation. 

"The quality of the layout and space, both internal and external, is considered to be inadequate and it would result in poor living conditions. The benefits to housing provision are therefore limited by the quality of the accommodation.

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"Furthermore, whilst UPVC windows already exist at first floor level and appear to be immune from enforcement as they appear to have been installed five years ago, this does not mean that the same windows are automatically acceptable at second floor level. 

"The harm to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area caused by this is considered to carry significant weight in the planning balance."

A visit to the pub suggests UPVC windows have been installed in the last few months at second floor level in advance of the decision.

Richard Silvester, a councillor for the area, said this has been raised with the council to see if there is a breach of planning permission.

Cllr Silvester said: "I am pleased officers refused the application because I was not happy with it. I do not want to see the town centre filled with HMOs. 

"It is not what we are looking for when we are trying to regenerate the town centre."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email jack.tooth@newsquest.co.uk or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.