Businessman decides enough is enough as he puts proposed HMO up for auction
- Credit: Archant
Businessman Jeremy Baldwin appears to have turned his back on Wisbech and is selling by auction a Grade 11 listed house he had wanted to convert to one in multiple occupation (HMO).
2 Museum Square has been listed for an online auction in December with a guide price of £190,000.
His application to convert it from offices to a seven-bed HMO has been withdrawn from the Fenland Council planning website.
Mr Baldwin addressed the planning committee of Fenland Council last month when councillors voted to defer his application pending requests to include an additional bathroom.
He told the committee that the property was not in disrepair “in fact it’s in quite decent condition”.
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On occupancy levels he said it was big enough and previously had seven to nine people working there with 10 to 15 meetings daily with people coming and going.
“It had quite a lot of footfall – parking was never raised as an issue”, he said.
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Mr Baldwin refuted suggestions it would be “a glorified slum” and said it was “economically important” that single people who could not afford their own property had somewhere to live.
And he said it had even been suggested to him by council officials that it could house even more but he was happy with the numbers proposed.
It was “economically sensible” to turn it into an HMO and his plans would include a massively improved frontage that would add to the square’s appeal.
And there were two other HMOs nearby, so it was wrong to suggest this was an isolated use.
“The idea that HMO by definition equals anti-social behaviour is a dangerous generalisation to make,” he said.
And Fenland Council would assure standards were upheld as they were “quite proactive in their management of them”.
He accused critics of using “cut and paste” objections and suggested someone “had made themselves busy whipping up a storm”.
Cllr Will Sutton said: “Generally speaking, I don’t have an issue with this building as an HMO. I don’t have a problem with where it is.”
But he added: “what I could support is deferral to go back, make that bedroom into a wet room and delegate to officers to pass. To me, that’s the main sticking point.”