A PLAN to turn offices in Merthyr Tydfil into a hotel with a bar and restaurant has been approved.
The application for Martin Evans House on Riverside Court was given the go ahead by the council’s planning committee on Wednesday, August 24
It originally went before committee back in June but was deferred for a site visit which took place in July.
Councillor Clive Jones originally requested the application be reported to committee in order to consider the potential impact of noise and loss of privacy from the development on neighbouring properties.
The building forms part of a group of large office complexes, including Ty Keir
Hardie to the east and the job centre to the north-east.
The main access to the building is via a shared private road that links to
the Avenue De Clichy to the east.
The restaurant and bar will be on the ground floor with hotel accommodation on the upper levels.
The plans include a total of 32 rooms with en-suite bathrooms split over the first and second floors.
The plans show there will be no extensions or external alterations required to the building with all of the works to convert the building being done internally, such as using the existing reception/lobby area where a separate entrance will be provided for the restaurant, bar and the hotel rooms and new internal partition walls on the upper levels of the building to create the bedrooms with a central access corridor.
The planning report said there are two private car parks located to either side of the building that will be used as part of the development with 29 parking spaces overall.
It said there are also other public car parks in the immediate vicinity that can be used by guests, such as the college car park and the multi-storey car park and that it is in a sustainable location within walking distance of the bus and railway stations.
One letter of objection was received which raised concerns including an increase in noise levels and disturbance as a result of increased footfall, traffic
movements and possibly live music, loss of privacy to neighbouring residents resulting from guests using the hotel rooms on the upper levels of the building and the potential to de-value the nearby houses.
But planning officers recommended approval for the development.
In their report, they said: “This proposal seeks to bring an empty office building back into beneficial use, which would have a positive impact on the wider regeneration of the town centre.”
They said the proposed bar, restaurant and hotel uses are deemed to be acceptable complementary commercial uses.
In response to the concerns of objectors about noise and disturbance, they said the property is located within the town centre, where you might generally expect greater levels of traffic movement and activity.
They said the site is adjacent to Avenue De Clichy, being one of the main roads into the town centre, and is near to other office buildings and car parks, as well as other commercial properties and public car parks in the wider area.
They accepted that residents may have experienced a quieter environment than it has been in past years, given that Martin Evans House has been vacant for some time and Ty Keir Hardie has been under occupied.
They also acknowledged the offices would have been used mainly during the daytime and the proposal would be in use during the day and evening but highlighted the separation distances to neighbouring houses, the position of the main entrance and the town centre location so they do not think the comings and goings of guests during the day or evening would generate significant noise and disturbance in the area.
On the issue of the potential use of live music playing from the bar, the report said environmental health has not raised any objections and have noted a premises license (which can control opening times, live music and the consumption of alcohol) would be required for the bar and restaurant and nuisance is something that would be taken into further consideration.
On the issue of the loss of privacy as a result of the hotel rooms, officers said no extra windows would be introduced or changed on the building and there would have been no restrictions to the opening times of the office building itself that meant it couldn’t be used during evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
Officers said they would not anticipate that guests would spend a considerable time looking out of the upper windows and you might expect guests to use the bedrooms for short periods of time and for limited activities.
They said even if they do, it is likely to be occasional and the impact would not differ significantly to the existing situation, adding that the rear gardens along Dixon Street are already overlooked by neighbouring houses.
The report said: “It is acknowledged that the proposal would change the nature of how the property is used, which may result in some differences to the potential impact on local amenity when compared to the existing office use.
“However, these differences would not give rise to a significant change to the potential impacts that may already exist, to such an extent that it
would amount to a sufficient reason for the refusal of this application.”
They said concern about devaluing nearby properties is not a material planning consideration.