An MP has been left looking for a new office after councillors approved turning his existing one into flats.

The plans will see the Halton 5 office block in Runcorn converted into 113 flats but mean Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury will be kicked out of the building, which houses his constituency office.

Halton Council’s planning committee approved the proposals on Monday evening after hearing that it could only refuse permission on a limited number of grounds as the conversion would be carried out under “permitted development rights”.

Permitted development rights allow developers to convert office blocks into accommodation without going through the full planning process, but have proved controversial with some branding the resulting flats “slums of the future”.

Mr Amesbury, who is also the shadow housing minister, has previously spoken out against both permitted development rights and the plans to convert the 1970s Halton 5 into flats.

In a formal objection, Mr Amesbury had raised concerns about the small size of many of the flats, the developer’s lack of contribution to local infrastructure and potential fire risk posed by the conversion.

He added: “Recent reports from the similar development at Castleview House suggest that there is likely to be an increase in police, fire and rescue and council resources required if the development goes ahead.”

Castleview House residents have described the building as “a living hell” and police were called to 40 separate incidents at the building in the first six months of 2020.

But during Monday’s meeting, councillors were told that these objections were not relevant when considering permitted development rights.

Safety concerns raised by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service were similarly ruled irrelevant to the application.

Lydia Sadler, speaking on behalf of applicants Empire Property Developments, said her client had “an established track record of bringing vacant and redundant buildings back into use”.

She added that the Halton 5 conversion would provide “high levels of residential amenity and security” and involve “considerable enhancements to the exterior of the building”.

But one member of the committee, Cllr Geoff Zygadllo, said he feared the building would be “isolated” and “a nightmare” for future residents.

Following the approval of the plans, Mr Amesbury told the LDRS: “This illustrates the fundamental problems with permitted development and why I opposed an extension of permitted development in Parliament.  “Local communities and councils now have such limited scope to shape their own neighbourhoods, they also bypass developer contributions for much needed infrastructure.  “I am currently in the process of searching for a new office.”