Decision looms on plan to convert apartment block into 'hotel' style lets

Homeowners at Finnieston development fear a high turnover of guests will lead to increased nuisance, noise and litter.

Decision looms on plan to convert Glasgow apartment block into ‘hotel’ style lets STV News

Plans to turn 41 homes in a Glasgow apartment block into “hotel” style lets for tourists, which sparked outrage from residents, are set to be decided.

Some homeowners paid around £320,000 for their Minerva Street flats in Finnieston and were shocked to learn part of their complex could become short-term lets.

They fear a high turnover of guests, particularly holidaymakers, will lead to increased nuisance, noise and litter, as well as safety concerns.

Sonder, the firm behind the proposal, wants to offer short-stay and long-stay serviced apartments and believes a “bespoke management plan” will prevent a negative impact on residents.

Council planners have recommended the city’s planning committee turns down the application at a meeting on Tuesday.

In total, 100 objections have been sent to the council, while 11 letters of support have been received.

Politicians, including Alison Thewliss MP, Patrick Harvie MSP and councillors, have opposed the plans but Glasgow’s Chamber of Commerce is in favour.

Planning officials, who are recommending refusal, have said there is a “distinction” between changing a whole block of flats to short-stay serviced apartments and converting part of a building to “non-residential use”.

A council report added: “Coupled with the clear overlooking and privacy issues that would result to the private residential amenity space there is no other conclusion to be drawn other than that the proposal will detrimentally impact upon the residential amenity of adjacent residents. 

“Given that the applicant was already operating the proposed use without consent, until action was taken by the planning authority, we also have clear evidence that the proposal will be disruptive to residential amenity.”

The report added officials had “expressed significant doubts”, before the application was submitted, over whether the change of use could be considered as the development wasn’t finished. They also advised council policy “discouraged long-stay and short-stay apartments in the same building.”

Sonder has submitted a legal letter that the firm says “demonstrates there are no legislative planning policy reasons why the application as submitted cannot be validated and determined.”

Following this letter, the council validated the application but remains “unconvinced that the applicant is on sound legal footing”.

Sonder wants to offer serviced apartments on a flexible basis, with a minimum stay of two nights and a maximum length of stay of up to six months.

“All 41 apartments are self-contained within their own stair/lift cores,” the firm has said. “No mainstream residential flat will share access to these cores.”

It added: “Sonder operates CCTV within the building and has an on-site presence from 8am to 8pm everyday. Outwith these times, there is an on-call security team who will attend to issues, on average within 15 minutes.

“Guests have 24/7 access to the Sonder management team via the app, text or phone, and there is a dedicated residents line which is available 24/7 for residents in the immediate area.”

SNP councillor for Anderston, City, Yorkhill, Angus Millar, said: “Proposals to turn these new-build flats into short term lets have caused real concern among the local community, not least those residents who have moved into the development only to find that an international aparthotel chain wants to convert part of it into tourist accommodation.

“These properties were given planning consent as homes for permanent residents, not party flats for transient visitors, and the development is clearly unsuited to aparthotel-style accommodation.

“Allowing these flats to become short term lets would mean tourists sharing common areas with permanent residents, accessing their accommodation late at night via a pend and courtyard surrounded by people’s homes and leading to concerns over noise and privacy.  

He added: “The report to be considered by the planning committee makes clear the extensive ways in which these proposals are incompatible with the city’s planning policy.

“I hope that members of the committee hear the weight of community opinion on this matter and accept the recommendation to refuse the proposals.”

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