Hotel rooms conversion is allowed despite neighbours' noise concerns

A hotel near Newport that is being used to house vulnerable people during the pandemic will return to its original use as the pandemic recedes, ending months of noise and disturbance for neighbours, councillors have been assured.

The Norwood House Hotel, at Chetwynd Aston. Photo: Google
The Norwood House Hotel, at Chetwynd Aston. Photo: Google

The Norwood House Hotel, at Chetwynd Aston, has been used as accommodation for vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Norwood House Hotel Ltd converted a function room into five new budget guest rooms, and Telford & Wrekin Council’s planning committee voted 6-2 to grant retrospective permission for the change.

Pave Lane resident Michael Bubb told members the current use makes the 18th-century venue function like a hostel or shared house rather than a conventional hotel, and said the residents’ loud, drunken behaviour has led to multiple police and ambulance visits.

Planners’ report acknowledged residents’ concerns about the current use, but stressed this is a temporary measure brought about by a government request.

“The hotel is currently being used as temporary accommodation to house vulnerable individuals from a Shropshire charity during the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said.

“This temporary change could be carried out without any formal planning permission due to the circumstances on the basis that the hotel returns to its previous operation following the pandemic.

“The applicant is applying to retain the rooms which have been converted, not change the use permanently to an HMO [house of multiple occupation] or hostel.”

It added that the committee was not being asked to rule on “the suitability of the site as a temporary form of accommodation”.

Committee member Peter Scott said the Newport area has “very little” budget accommodation at the moment so the extra capacity would be useful.

He asked: “If we were to approve it, how confident can we be that it will remain simply budget accommodation in the future?”

Development Service Delivery Manager Valerie Hulme said the emergency powers that allowed its current use would be lifted as the pandemic ends, and the council would eventually be able to enforce an end to the HMO-like use, which is technically unauthorised.

Mr Bubb said neighbouring residents were “intimidated and disturbed” by the current use of the hotel.

“These current guests are cooped up all day; there’s no garden, no parks, no shops, with the result that they really only surface in the afternoon then party half the night, which is totally contrary to hard-working people trying to get a good night’s sleep,” he said.

Chetwynd Aston and Woodcote Parish Council member Bridget Page said: “The applicant has, in the recent past, seemed unable to curtail this behaviour and the police and ambulance service have attended the hotel on many occasions.”

Mr Bubb asked the committee to refuse permission, calling the application a “sham”, saying he thought the new rooms would be a step towards the hotel become an HMO in the long term.

“I would ask you to use common sense and common decency towards the local people,” he said.

Chetwynd Aston and Lilleshall councillor Andrew Eade welcomed a condition, proposed in the officers’ report, that would restrict future guests to a maximum stay of 28 days. He suggested adding a further 28-day “no return” rule “to ensure the rooms are operated as a hotel and not as a main residence”. Officers agreed to this.

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