Developer to appeal rejected Finnieston serviced apartment plans

The developer behind rejected plans to turn 41 homes in a Glasgow apartment block into serviced flats has launched an appeal, claiming there is “no evidence” the scheme would have a negative impact.

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Sonder Hospitality wants permission to offer stays ranging from two nights to around three months in flats at 3, 5 and 7 Minerva Way.

But the controversial proposal sparked outrage from residents in the block, where some homeowners paid around £320,000 for their properties.

They are concerned a high turnover of guests, particularly on short stays, will lead to increased nuisance, noise and litter and have also raised safety fears.

Glasgow’s planning committee turned down Sonder’s application in April after council officials had recommended the project should be rejected.

However, the developers have now appealed to the Scottish Government and an independent reporter is set to rule on whether the scheme can go ahead.

Sonder, which has altered the maximum stay from six months to less than 90 days, has said the premises have been used as serviced apartments since August last year and “no evidence has been provided to show the use has caused problems”.

“The reasons for refusal appear to be based on concerns raised by local residents. In absence of evidence of actual problems, those concerns appear to be based on perceptions, which perhaps misunderstand the nature of the use; and assume, incorrectly, that serviced apartments inherently impact on amenity more than residential use.”

Glasgow City Council received 100 objections to Sonder’s application, including from politicians, with Alison Thewliss MP, Patrick Harvie MSP, Kaukab Stewart MSP and local councillors Christy Mearns, Angus Millar and Philip Braat opposing the plans. There were 11 letters of support.

Planning officials reported there would be “clear overlooking and privacy issues” for the private residential space and advised that council policy “discouraged long-stay and short-stay apartments in the same building”.

“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.

Reasons for refusal included the impact on permanent residents and failures to provide the required level of refuse storage and parking.

Sonder has said 31 car parking spaces would be available and pre-booked by guests and the company has “legal rights to use the refuse store” by staff only. A private waste contractor would supply bins for general waste and recycling, the appeal added.

The firm stated its plan meets local and national planning policies and the apartments are self-contained so no residential flat would share access to the block. It added there has been no objection from the council’s roads, design or environmental health teams and the development is “future proofed” so it can be returned to residential use in future.

Sonder also said it is “not considered” the development will “result in a significant impact on Glasgow’s housing stock” and this “must be balanced with the vital part that tourism plays” in the city’s economy.

There would be CCTV, an on-site presence from 8am to 8pm and an on-call security team, the firm has said.

A decision on the appeal is expected to be made by November 4.

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