Plan to transform Baldock pub in to block of six flats is approved

The Boot, Baldock. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Boot, Baldock - Credit: Danny Loo

Proposals to transform a former pub in Baldock into a block of flats have been given the go-ahead, despite concerns about lack of parking.

The Boot, on High Street, is not currently trading as a pub – and the area that was once a beer garden sits behind wooden boards.

Applicants have drawn up plans to extend the building at the rear and the sides and to turn it into a block of six flats, and on Monday, April 12 a meeting of the North Herts District Council planning control committee granted  planning permission.

The application was called-in to the committee by Cllr Jim McNally, amid concerns that the four parking spaces in the plans would not be enough.

The council’s own guidelines suggest that the block – with four two-bed flats and two one-bed – should have 10 spaces.

Speaking as a community advocate at the meeting, Cllr McNally stressed that he was not against the change of use and that residential use was appropriate and sustainable, but he said there were serious concerns with regard to the density of the development and the lack of parking.

And questioning how easy it would be to get in and out of vehicle parked in the occupied spaces, he said: “Squeezing in small parking bays with inadequate manoeuvring space is simply  asking for trouble, and in my view designing in the potential for neighbour disputes and rising antisocial behaviour.”

But speaking in support of the application, planning consultant Tom Donovan said the applicant believed this to be the most sensible use of the site.

Pointing to extensive local competition and the configuration of the pub, he said The Boot was not viable as a pub, and he highlighted the benefit of a new housing development,  which he said would contribute to the significant shortfall in the district and would be deliverable in the short term.

He acknowledged the ‘slight’ under-provision of car parking spaces, but he said the four spaces were a ‘sensible compromise’ – providing allocated parking but making the development appealing to those who don’t have a private vehicle.

At the meeting councillors expressed their concern about the number and size of the parking spaces – but ultimately voted in favour of the application.

Officers told the committee that original plans had included six parking spaces, but this was changed in response to county council concerns that the cars would not be able to leave the spaces in a ‘forward gear’, and it was noted that it was a town centre location – with a bus stop outside and within walking distance of the train station.

Despite concerns abut the parking provision, Cllr Tony Hunter recommended that the proposal be granted – amid fears a refusal would be overturned at appeal.

“Personally I would probably agree that parking is an issue,” he said. “But town centre developments are happening across the district without any parking spaces whatsoever.

“And I think if this committee were of a mind to throw it out on that issue we would not stand a chance at appeal.”

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