A GOVERNMENT inspector has overturned a council decision to reject a landlord’s controversial plan to convert a former takeaway into a tiny bedsit.

Former magistrate and former city councillor Nurul Haque, converted former Polish takeaway Pierogarnia in Comer Road, into two “woefully below standard” bedsits without planning permission last year.

Worcester City Council’s planning committee overwhelmingly rejected the plan last year but a government inspector has ruled that permission should be given after seeing no evidence that the plan would cause parking problems.

Government inspector Chris Forrett said the main issue in the appeal was road safety and neither the city nor county council had put forward any evidence that there were any parking issues in Comer Road.

He admitted the size of the drive was “substandard” and bigger cars would block at least part of the pavement but said allowing the bedsit to stay would actually be “beneficial” as a takeaway or shop would cause more traffic and a bigger demand for parking spaces.

Last year, council planners said the two bedsit plan was “woefully below” the national standards for minimum floor space for new houses and flats and had tried to negotiate to make a proposal for the “more acceptable” plan of one flat so it was at least liveable if approved.

Council planners had then recommended to councillors that it should be approved as a one-flat plan but was rejected by the council’s planning committee anyway at a meeting in December last year.

City councillor Richard Udall said he was disappointed but not surprised the decision was overturned.

“It’s incredibly concerning. It is an appalling design, it will be totally inadequate housing for the people who live there. The fact that cars that park there already overhang onto the pavement is a serious concern for people.

“Unfortunately it is not unexpected but local democracy in council planning matters seems to be no longer relevant.

“People who know the area, people who understand the area, people who have a feeling for local issues would know that what was applied for was totally out of order and to overturn the views of locally elected people is quite frankly an outrage.

“At least a third of the pavement is permanently obstructed by a parked car and that cannot be, in any shape or form, an acceptable situation.

“It’s more than unfortunate, it’s actually a diabolical scandal that such a decision has been overturned but that’s the planning system. We have to learn to live with it.”

The work, which had already been carried out before gaining planning permission, came to the attention of the city council through enforcement action in August last year. Mr Haque had put forward a plan to get permission for the bedsits a month later but eventually withdrew it.

Councillor Richard Udall, who represents St John’s, said at the planning meeting that neighbours were “very angry and frustrated” that the conversion had already taken place without consent.

“This would create a total over-occupation of the site but that is a minor concern compared to the huge concerns I have about residential parking problems in this part of Comer Road already,” he said.

“It will undoubtedly create added pressure for parking in an area already facing significant pressure.”

Highways bosses at Worcestershire County Council had raised an objection to the plan over a lack of parking.

Cllr Chris Cawthorne, who also represents St John’s, said the conversion was a “complete mess” during the planning meeting last year.

Cllr Jenny Barnes added the front of the building which had been altered during the conversion was “very ugly” and “completely out-of-keeping with the rest of the street.”

She said: “Even if it was left as a flat it would be a blot on that area of the community.”