SHELTERED homes for women have approval at the entrance to a cemetery.
The revised scheme has been put forward on Blacon Avenue in Chester by the Muir Group Housing Association.
The association told planning officers at Chester City Council it proposed to demolish an unoccupied bungalow at 13 Blacon Avenue, opposite the police custody suite and build eight single bedsit flats in a traditionally designed three storey 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”.
She told the board: “I hope we could sit down and discuss it further.”
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.
Blacon Avenue occupiers Mr and Mrs J Adams told the city council at an earlier stage 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.
Agents for Muir Housing argue the seven supported flats for female residents will help to meet the demand for affordable housing in Chester district.
It is anticipated that residents will stay in the unit for a period of six to 12 months until permanent and suitable long-term accommodation can be found for them.
The development will include a communal facility in which various training activities can take place for residents.
The aim will be that occupiers would be able, when the time came, to move into their own property in the community.
Recommending the revised application should be approved, planning officers said they did not believe the “small scale” of the accommodation would give rise to excessive levels of noise or disturbance.
They pointed out that in any event, there will be a warden on site at all times to manage the establishment.
“The design more closely reflects nearby buildings,” said principal planning officer Steve Lewis.
Moving approval, Mollington City Cllr Brian Crowe (Con) commented: “This is a greatly improved scheme.”
Blacon Cllr Norman Stainthorp (Lab) said, however: “Residents in the area have their fair share of non domestic uses around them.”
The board agreed the application on a 13-0 vote.