The owner of a Grade II listed Georgian mansion has been given permission to convert it into eight separate apartments, despite furious objections.
Azhar Hussain bought the historic Horbury property from Wakefield Council in 2010, and has since failed in attempts to have it altered from a single home to a block of luxury flats.
But the local authority’s planning committee has now given the latest plans the green light after the number of proposed flats was reduced.
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Horbury Heritage Trust had opposed the plans and a total of 80 objections were tabled against the development.
It was argued that it should be kept as a single home, in keeping with a covenant that was imposed by the council when they sold it.
Mr Hussain will still have to apply under separate legislation for that agreement to be scrapped, so he can press ahead with the development.
Speaking at the committee meeting on Thursday, Michael Cudworth, from the heritage trust, said the property had been subjected to “wilful neglect”
He said: “The intensity of this development will never be reversible.
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“A single dwelling option for this property has never been explored, nor have any other options.
“The owner has said if he can’t build apartments, he will leave it vacant. So who’s calling the shots here?”
Representing Mr Hussain at the meeting, Andy Keeling said that the objectors’ claims were wrong and that £350,000 had been spent on the home’s maintenance since it was bought eight years ago.
He said: “My client absolutely denies everything that’s been said there previously. He’s quite upset about it.
“The property has been marketed as a single dwelling but it received no offers and there was very little interest.
“The interest that was shown was solely from developers, and they wanted to turn it into apartments.”
Coun Jacqueline Williams, one of two elected members to vote against the plans, expressed concern about the impact on the building’s heritage.
She said: “I’m worried we’re given a green light to an inferior change here.
“We’re opening it up for a complete renovation which is not sustainable for a property of this size. It doesn’t sit well with me.”
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But planning officer Jody Jones said that if action was not taken, the building could deteriorate further.
She said: “It’s a case that’s been going on for some years and we’ve reached a pivotal point now.
“This is the only option that’s on the table now. I’m confident this can work with eight flats.”
The application was passed by a majority of 10 votes to two.