CONTROVERSIAL plans for a city centre hotel to become student accommodation are recommended for refusal.
Applicants Lingar Properties have told planning officers at Cheshire West and Chester Council they are seeking to use the Hotel Roma at 49-51 Lower Bridge Street and a modern annexe, including a converted garage, to house 29 students.
The grade two listed, three storey 18th century townhouse is close to County Hall which is being taken over by the University of Chester.
City centre councillor Richard Lowe (Con) has called the application in to a Cheshire West and Chester Council planning board meeting in Winsford tomorrow (Tuesday, May 11) on the grounds the change of use is controversial and a significant number of objections have been received.
At present, the property is used as an hotel and restaurants, according to a report.
Eighteen students would occupy the existing hotel and 11 the annexe, including the conversion of a garage to a bedroom.
There would be a manager's accommodation on the ground floor and a restaurant in the undercroft would continue as a separate business.
A restaurant and bar on the ground floor would become a bar.
Police crime reduction officers have visited neighbours and say they share their concerns at an increase in the use of outside space between the annexe and the main hotel building, including smoking and possible anti social behaviour.
Occupiers argue the change of use would not enhance the appeal of the area to tourists and believe it would encourage further applications for student accommodations in the vicinity of County Hall.
This would lead to a deterioration of general amenity standards in the area, they believe.
Residents suggest there is no need for student accommodation on Lower Bridge Street and are concerned about increased noise.
They have called for an assessment of the need for student accommodation across Chester before any permission is granted.
Planners say it is not necessarily accepted that students would be any more likely than non students to cause disturbance but accept there could be boisterous and inconsiderate behaviour which should be taken into account given the proximity of neighbours, in particular at Francesca Court which has been built between the hotel building and the annexe.
The applicants say the ground floor bar would be used by student residents and students from the university although the report points out there is nothing to suggest that its use by non students would be prohibited.
Planners point out that although each room would have an ensuite bathroom, there would be no communal living area, outside recreation space or cooking facilities.
At least two rooms would be small.
Recommending refusal, they say it has not been shown the impact of the change to student accommodation would have an acceptable effect on residential amenity or there are adequate safeguards.
The standard of accommodation is also said to be unacceptable.
The application will be considered by councillors at their meeting at 4pm at Wyvern House in Winsford.