AN Oldham youth centre is to be demolished and replaced with a three-storey apartment block despite calls to reopen it as a community hub.

The vacant Robin Hill Bangladeshi Youth Club on Trafalgar Street will be knocked down after Oldham’s planning committee voted in favour of the flats proposal.

The new ‘L-shaped’ building will be made up of 14 two bedroom flats and 13 undercroft parking bays.

One objection had been received over the plans, arguing that the site should be left as a community building as there were not enough facilities in the area.

Objector Rafiul Ansari presented a petition from local residents to the committee.

He said there would be a loss of privacy around the surrounding flats because of the height of the apartment block.

“I live across from Robin Hill and if three floors are built the other people in other flats would be able to look into my flat, and I would be able to look into their flat,” he said.

“Coldhurst is the most deprived area in the whole of the UK and the loss of a youth centre like this is a massive thing for the community. There are no other youth clubs in the proximity.

“The Clarkwell estate is densely populated and this addition of residential properties will make the area overcrowded in an already tightly packed area.”

Mr Ansari said the building was bought at auction when the financial crisis hit and the council could not support it.

“There are groups out there that want to take it over, get funding privately, and we want to re-establish it as a youth centre,” he added.

Werneth Councillor Shoab Akhtar said: “Personally I feel a bit uneasy with this particular application because I think what’s being proposed is similar to what’s already in that particular area. There’s a lot of over-development in that area already.

“The demand in this particular area is for large family houses and not for one or two bedroom flats. You can easily fit three, four houses on that particular site.”

Head of planning, Stephen Irvine said: “I think the key thing to remember here is we all know about the fairly substantial problems we have in meeting our housing numbers and housing need and we do have to make difficult decisions around this.

“Whilst its never great losing a community facility, that’s never easy to do, it’s fairly clear that it hasn’t been used for some time and because of that you have to have weight for new housing.”

The meeting was also told that the developer, JSSJ Developments Ltd, was not being asked to pay a contribution to improve the area around the new block of flats.

Planning officer Tessa McGee said: “It has been concluded that the costs of the development of the site and the expected low sale values of the area would make it difficult to enable us to request for any payments for public open space.

“It’s considered payments for public open space would render the site non-viable, as such, we’ve not requested a public open space contribution.”

Councillor Garth Harkness said: “I’m a bit uneasy that with the loss of a community asset like this that they don’t contribute anything towards public open space at all.”

Committee chairman Councillor Steven Bashforth said the design was ‘not the most attractive building in the world’.

He added: “It does seem a little bit cruel that somebody takes something away and doesn’t put anything back, particularly in an area like this.

“I’m not comfortable with the design in that it just doesn’t look very nice but I can’t think of a single planning reason to refuse that.”

The application was approved, eight votes to four.