HIGHLY controversial plans to turn a former Widnes care home into shared accommodation are due to be discussed for a second time next week, with planning chiefs recommended to grant approval.

Proposals to transform the former Cartref House Nursing Home on Derby Road into houses in multiple occupation (HMO) were deferred at a previous meeting of the council’s development management committee in November.

The scheme - submitted by Southport-based Crosshill Property Partners - would feature 29 rooms with shared kitchen, bathrooms and living areas. Six of the rooms would be self-contained apartments.

It prompted a fierce backlash from some local residents, with 256 written objections being received and two petitions with a total of 549 being submitted opposing the plans, citing a range of concerns including lack of parking, amenities and crime and antisocial behaviour.

At November’s meeting, dozens of objectors turned out at the DCBL stadium and some councillors voiced their opposition to the scheme, but were told by the council’s own planning experts that if there were no legitimate grounds to refuse the plans, the applicant could lodge an appeal which would likely succeed and the council would be liable for the resulting costs.

The committee voted to defer a decision pending a site visit and planning officers have once again recommended that the scheme be approved when the committee meets again on Tuesday, January 18.

A report to the committee, said: “Concerns have been raised during the public consultation by members of the public regarding noise levels of the new tenants and the impact that might have on the existing residential properties.

"It is advised that any allegations of nuisance would need to be investigated, and there is currently no evidence to justify an objection to the proposed development on the basis of potential noise complaints.”

At November’s meeting, planning committee member Cllr Dave Thompson likened HMOs to ‘Victorian slums’.

But the report added that there was ‘no evidence’ to justify a policy restriction on HMO properties.

It added: “It should also be noted that the site is currently vacant and has been for some time.

"Bringing the building back into beneficial use would secure the future of the building and bringing more people into the area with potential benefits to the area and local economy.”