A PLAN to turn a church building in Musselburgh into an HMO flat has been given the go-ahead by East Lothian Council, despite concern about anti-social behaviour, noise and increased traffic.

Steve Burke has received planning permission for alterations and a change of use of The Apostolic Church at 122A New Street.

A planning report said the ground-floor of the two-storey terraced building was last in use as a church. The upper floor is in residential use as flats.

“It is proposed that the existing building is converted through internal works and external alterations to provide one five-bedroom HMO [house in multiple occupation],” it added.

The HMO flat would include two bedrooms with en-suites, three further bedrooms and a shared bathroom, WC, utility and lounge/kitchen facilities.

Seven letters of objection and one written representation were received in relation to the application.

Objections received

Objections were raised that the application did not provide details regarding the type of residents who would occupy the HMO property, which could potentially lead to additional noise, disruption and anti-social behaviour. There were concerns about increased traffic, the lack of on-street parking and rise in the number of cars the change of use could bring.

The planning report said: “The type of residents occupying an HMO property is not a matter that is relevant to the determination of a planning application ... the matter of noise or anti-social behaviour are controlled through legislation other than planning.

“The council’s licensing service could take into consideration any complaints regarding noise and anti-social behaviour in the issuing of a licence for the HMO.

“The use of the ground-floor premises as a five-bedroomed HMO would be a residential use, the principle of which would not be inappropriate for this location within a predominantly residential area.”

The council’s environmental protection protective services (anti-social behaviour), environmental health officer and roads and waste services, and Police Scotland raised no objections to the HMO. Scottish Fire & Rescue Services had no comment to make.

The planning report said: “The proposed alterations to install new windows and block up the existing window openings of the building would not be inappropriate to their setting and would not be out of keeping with their surroundings.

“The installation of new windows and external doors would not harm the character and appearance of the building or on the streetscape of the surrounding area.”

It added that the proposals were considered to be in accordance with development plan policies.

The application was approved by planning officers under the council’s scheme of delegation.