A PLAN to retrospectively allow flats above a shop to be converted into a HMO despite it already existing for more than two-and-a-half-years was rejected.

Worcester City Council’s planning committee refused a plan to convert flats above Costcutters on the junction of Solitaire Avenue and Oldbury Road into a four-bedroom house of multiple occupation (HMO) despite it already existing as one since January 2017.

City council planners recommended the plan should be refused as allowing the HMO to legitimately exist would result in a too-high concentration of HMOs and could potentially cause more noise, anti-social behaviour and nuisance to neighbours.

The percentage of HMOs within 100 metres of the shop is already way above the threshold at almost 30 per cent.

Councillor Pat Agar said she had “some sympathy” with shop owner Tirath Singh because the two strands of HMOs - obtaining a licence and planning permission - should have been made clearer to him.

She said whilst she sympathised with Mr Singh the council should not “throw the [HMO] policy out of the window” and voted against the plan at a meeting of the planning committee on Thursday (September 19).

Cllr Roger Berry said the council should be addressing the “disconnect” between its licensing and planning departments.

The flat currently has a house of multiple occupation (HMO) licence for three people valid until August 2020.

The four-bedroom HMO would require three car parking spaces under council rules but a parking plan was not submitted to the county council until an hour before the meeting. Highways officers did not have enough time to look at the plan properly but said it seemed to conform with the council’s request for three spaces.

Mr Singh had also responded to some objections by neighbours late on Wednesday (September 18) which were given to the planning committee before the meeting.

Cllr Amos said Mr Singh should not get “two bites of the cherry” and it was unfair on neighbours to do so.

Council planners also said adding an extra bedroom to the HMO would make it too cramped and not give residents “a reasonable level of amenity” despite it fighting within size guidelines. The kitchen within the HMO would also be too cramped, planners said.

A council spokesman said: “The applicant does have the right to appeal the decision but if the use of the property as an HMO does not stop, then enforcement action will be considered.”