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Re-development work starts on Moorlands Hotel?

John Freeman

Moorlands Hotel, Freehold, Lancaster.Freehold residents have been expressing concerns that Mister Properties appears to have begun work on the re-development on the Moorlands Hotel into student flats – even though planning permission has yet to be granted.

The Moorlands Hotel in Lancaster's Freehold closed a few months ago and was sold to Mister Capitol Holdings by owners Mitchells. Mister Properties submitted plans to turn the property into four student studio apartments,  two six-bedroom student flats and one seven-bedroom student flat in December, and under planning regulations, MCH are allowed to start preparation work while the planning application is going through. However, they cannot start major works.

The submitted plans for the proposed development
"I am concerned that building and work is being carried out before planning permission has been granted for change of use of the Moorlands Hotel, says Primrose Street resident and Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Terry Parsons, who is concerned about the conversion plans, which he argues in a submission to the Planning Department would lead to an increase in existing ant-social behaviour, more noise and parking problems in the area.

When Terry took photographs of the property he says the workmen were "unimpressed". Other local residents report seeing lorries removing rubble from the property. 

"That isn't prep work, that's a rebuild," opined one resident.

As we have previously reported, Mister Capitol Holdings is the same company that bought and began work on the Duke of Lancaster on China Street last year. Lancaster City Council quickly called a halt to the conversion work and began a planning enforcement investigation after it became clear that  the company had begun work converting the former public house into flats without securing planning permission. (The company has since submitted plans for converting the premises, which cost £250,000 to purchase, which, like the Moorlands application, are awaiting a planning decision).

The Planning Office says it is "investigating" complaints about work being carried out on the Moorlands.

Terry Parsons argues that along with noise and anti-social behaviour issues, if it goes ahead the development will cause problems with parking in the area – a view supported by many other locals. There are no plans for any on-site parking for the property.

"During term time it is very difficult for locals to park because of student cars," he says in his submission. "Quarry Mount Mews is already used by people parking to go into town to work. On a number of occasions I have had to contact the police because I could neither get in or out of or drive because of parked cars.

"It is also difficult for emergency services to get up Quarry Mount Mews. I have seen an ambulance on at least two times unable to get up the road to get to Quarry Mount because of the parked cars. We have been promised double yellow lines on Quarry Mount Mews but these have not appeared.

"... If only half the students that move into the Moorlands had cars that is at least another 12 cars that need parking spaces. Where are these going to come from?"

While Lancashire Constabulary has not objected to the change of use, they have suggested stronger security for the development. " I note from the Sustainability Statement, no mention is made of physical security to be fitted to the communal entrance doors for the student flats or the individual internal flat/apartment entrance doors," says Terry Burke from the Local Policing Unit. "A considerable amount of student accommodation has been built to Secured by Design standard, I would recommend that this is maintained across new applications for student accommodation.

"Parents of students have sought reassurance as to the security of residential accommodation available in Lancaster."

Should planning permission be granted, the Council's Environmental Health Services  has insisted on various conditions by which any work be carried out. "Environmental Health... has identified significant potential for adverse impact(s) and the need for suitable controls to be included in any permission granted," they state in their response to the planning application.

They have demanded that Hours of Construction be 0800-1800 Mon to Fri, 0800-1400 Saturday. No site clearance or construction of the development shall occur on the site except between the hours of
0800-1800 Monday to Friday, and 0800-1400 on Saturdays. In particular no work shall be undertaken on Sundays or on Public Holidays without the prior written agreement of the local planning authority.
Reason: In the interests of residential amenity.

View the Moorlands planning application and responses to the plans here on the Lancaster City Council web site

See Also

Moorlands Hotel set to become flats? 

•  Council calls a halt to conversion work on former Duke of Lancaster pub