Fresh plans to turn a former pub in Royton into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) have been submitted, weeks after the local authority rejected the initial proposal.

Planning documents submitted in January this year proposed transforming the former Murphy's Bar/Blue Bell pub on Rochdale Road into a 10-bed HMO.

The pub became vacant after falling out of use in December last year.

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However, as many as 10 residents formally objected to the proposal, calling it "outrageous" and "disgusting".

Oldham Council then refused the plans on March 19 after finding the loss of a public house would be inappropriate for the borough while its stipulated bedrooms would have fallen below the "adequate standard of amenity".

Less than a month after the verdict, on April 17, a new plan was submitted which would see the HMO reduced in size to seven bedrooms.

Planning documents by Paddington Planning reveal the applicant has taken into account the reasons for refusal, and that the "layout has been duly altered" as a result.

Prior sketches of the current ground floor show the pub is made up of a large open-plan public area as well as a kitchen and separate ladies' and gents' toilets.

The applicant proposes redesigning the space to make way for a communal lounge and kitchen as well as three bedrooms with ensuite showers. 

Meanwhile, the first floor would also have a communal lounge, kitchen and four bedrooms with ensuite showers.

The reduction in bedrooms suggests potential occupiers would have more space when compared to the initial application which had outlined five bedrooms with shower blocks and toilets on the ground floor and another five bedrooms with separate shower and toilet facilities on the first floor.

Addressing the reasons for refusal, the applicant said the scheme has been amended to reduce the number of bedrooms and provide evidence that "the loss of the public house would not be harmful on this occasion".

To this end, Paddington Planning said the pub went up for sale in 2012 and, due to a "downturn in trade" the business went into liquidation, owing creditors almost £60,000.

The property was then put back on the market and sold around March 2022, where it was renamed Murphy's Bar.

Paddington Planning then said it understands the previous occupier of Murphy's Bar "left abruptly on/before 18th December 2023 also leaving creditors bills unpaid".

The statement adds: "It is clear given the evidence available that the public house at no. 180 Rochdale Road could not sustain a manager’s wage let alone employ any additional staff and thus should not be considered an employment generating use.

"Therefore, taking into account the history of the site, a public house in this location is clearly unsustainable in the current climate due to the rising wholesale costs, rising energy prices, inability to recruit/afford staff as well as a reduction in customer numbers."

The planning company also pointed out another pub, The Junction Inn, "in very close proximity" at 221 Rochdale Road which "has benefits that would draw potential customers away from no.180".

They added: "As such, it is argued that two public houses in such close proximity cannot coexist due to the downfall in trade.

"Furthermore, whilst smaller independent public houses may survive in village locations with limited or no competition, in towns such as Royton they cannot compete with the larger pub chains in the area which provide a host of other facilities."

The documents go on to state that there is a "decline in people visiting pubs" and that Murphy's Bar "would not have the financial backup or security that would enable it to keep running at a loss".

By contrast, the application states the pub's conversion into a HMO would "boost housing within the area".

When addressing the revised bedroom sizes, Paddington Planning said three of the bedrooms exceed the standard size, meaning they would be "suitable" for double occupancy while the communal areas also exceed "what is necessary".

In addition, a ground floor bedroom in the initial plan has been scrapped to be reutilised as cycle storage.

The planning document added: "The generous layout and arrangement of the building would provide future occupiers with a good standard of living."

At the time of writing, seven residents have objected to the new plans, citing concerns over parking and the impact on local provisions such as GPs, dentists and schools.

Some said they would also prefer to see Murphy's Bar retained as a pub or some other commercial building to encourage business in the area.

Oldham Council has yet to assess the new application.

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