A bid to turn the upstairs floors of a shop in the heart of Hereford into nine “comfortable but compact” bedsits has been dropped.

The move would have seen the upper two floors of 2 High Street, between the Marks & Spencer and New Look clothing stores, converted and extended by an extra floor.

According to the application, by a London-based developer, this would have created “small-scale, high-quality residential accommodation, for young singles” in the upper floors of the building which, along with the basement, “are vacant and look to have been this way for some years”.


The building has a narrow street front but extends considerably to the rear, the current ground floor occupant being a mobile phone accessory shop.

Its “long and narrow form between two larger units” created practical problems which the plan proposed to overcome by creating a central staircase and lightwell with skylight window above.

Even with a new third floor, containing four new bedsit rooms, it would have sat below the roofline of the adjoining buildings, while its “mansard” (steeply sloping) roof to the front would have “matched neighbouring properties”, the application said.

Access to the rooms, meanwhile, would have been to the rear, from East Street, “via a new access gateway”.

The bedsits themselves would have ranged in size between 6.8 and 12.2 square metres, with six described as singles and three as doubles, each with windows.

But Central Hereford councillor Jeremy Milln, who sits on Herefordshire Council’s planning committee, said that while “in principle a beneficial new use is welcome” for the building, its subdivision “into so many units is extremely problematic”.

He said the proposed room sizes were “at the bottom end of what most local authorities would consider acceptable”, while lower rooms depending on the internal lightwell “would be too remote from the skylight to benefit from any meaningful natural light”, and their ventilation would be “even worse”.

The council’s environmental health officer agreed that some of the bedsits “look quite small” and also raised concerns about the internal rooms’ reliance on the lightwell.

“There does not appear to be provisions for the drying of clothes, either inside or outside,” she added.


Responding to these criticisms, the applicant’s agent acknowledged that the room sizes “are at the lower end of the scale”, but were nonetheless “above the minimum requirements”, and that there was room in the kitchen for a shared washer and drier.

“Whilst we can agree the amount of daylight is not ideal, it still is a significant improvement to the daylight the existing rooms and layout provide,” the agent said last month.

However, as of yesterday (April 11), the application has been formally withdrawn.