SHELTERED homes for women are proposed at the entrance to a cemetery.
The scheme has been put forward on Blacon Avenue in Chester by the Muir Group Housing Association.
The association has told planning officers at Chester City Council it proposes to demolish an unoccupied bungalow at 13 Blacon Avenue, opposite the police station and custody suite and build eight single bedsit flats in a traditionally designed L-shaped property.
Seven of the flats would be supported and the eighth would provide a sleep over.
The development led to concerns at a meeting of the city's planning board in July when councillors said they were worried about the size and design of the building.
The board agreed to defer a decision on the application following representations from Blacon Lodge city councillor Marie Nelson (Lab).
Cllr Nelson said a number of issues had been brought to her attention following a meeting and she hoped there would be “some room for manoeuvre”.
Cllr Nelson told the board: “I hope we could sit down and discuss it further.”
She argued that although Muir Housing had attended a meeting of the Blacon area committee, residents did not believe that consultation had taken place.
“Residents are very, very concerned and we need to sit down and have a proper discussion period,” she insisted.
There were a number of objections including the height of the proposed three storey building which would cause problems for at least two properties with overshadowing.
Councillors agreed more time was needed for discussions on the design and height of the scheme.
The board heard that residents of lower Blacon Avenue had presented a petition arguing they had no prior notice of the redevelopment of the property.
“We believe that the proposed three storey building consisting of eight supported flats is an insensitive overdevelopment and therefore if approved will undoubtedly have a significant effect on the quiet residential character of this neighbourhood,'' they said.
Occupiers demanded that further progress on the application should be “immediately deferred” until such time as a full and proper review and consultation had been undertaken.
Residents insisted that consultation must include occupiers in the immediate locality who would be most affected.
The city council's area manager, Barbara Coleman said, however, there had been more consultation than would normally be expected.
As part of this, the area committee had provided a forum for the issue to be discussed and comments forms were provided for residents.
Blacon Avenue occupiers Mr and Mrs J Adams told planning officers they were worried there could be undesirable and unacceptable noise and nuisance especially late at night from people who may congregate outside and suggested the police station and custody suite opposite had already caused nuisance and disruption.
People congregated and asked occupiers to phone for a taxi or for a light for their cigarettes.
Mr and Mrs Adams also pointed out that if there was 24 hour access to the building, this would add to the constant flashing lights from police vehicles and sirens.
Describing the development as “insensitive” they added the crematorium was a place of grief and solace where people respected quietness.
Mr Mark Pennell, also of Blacon Avenue, raised similar concerns and added: “This is still primarily a quiet residential road consisting solely of bungalows and two storey houses built in the 1940s.
“Whilst this area may not be unique, it is certainly historically distinctive and as the rightful original gateway to Blacon, every effort should be made to retain it in its current state.”
He described the development as “highly inappropriate” and suggested that tenants would have little interest in investing in the community or in the immediate neighbourhood.
“Alternative locations that are more appropriate should be considered where such an amenity will be more in keeping and which can also provide for greater access to essential education, recreational and shopping facilities,” he said.
Mr J E Toms, whose wife lies in the cemetery, told planning officers he did not believe the development would be compatible with the cemetery and crematorium which were normally places for grief and quiet contemplation.
He also had concerns of overlooking.
Agents for Muir Housing argued the seven supported flats for female residents would help to meet the demand for affordable housing in Chester district.
It was anticipated that residents would stay in the unit for a period of six to 12 months until permanent and suitable long-term accommodation could be found for them.
The development would include a communal facility in which various training activities could take place for residents.
The aim would be that occupiers would be able, when the time came, to move into their own property in the community.
The housing trust subsequently withdrew the application and entered into discussions with the city council to acquire an area of additional land within the crematorium to allow a two storey development providing the same level of accommodation as before.
Recommending the application should be approved, planning officers say they do not believe the small scale of the proposed use would give rise to excessive levels of noise or disturbance.
They point out that in any event, there would be a warden on site at all times to manage the establishment.
The scheme is due to be considered at a meeting of the city's planning board taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Wednesday (October 29) at 10.30am.