PLANS to convert a gym in Barrow into a 17-bedroom house of multiple occupancy (HMO) have been given the green light.

Westmorland and Furness Council have approved plans from Linton Estates Group Ltd to convert the existing gym at St James Church Hall on Hartington Street into a 17-bedroom HMO.

Three of the bedrooms in the proposed HMO could be double  occupancy so the property could have 20 residents in total.

The applicant, who owns the building, is proposing the conversion of the building as the current owner of the gym is retiring.

Proposals include providing each room with an en-suite bathroom and there will be a large communal dining area as well as two kitchens.

A design and access statement says: “It is proposed to change the use of the property from a gymnasium to a large House in Multiple Occupation. This effective use of the property will help meet the need for homes while improving the local environment and ensuring safe and healthy living conditions for end users and neighbouring residences.

“There is a demonstrable need for the housing proposed. Over the 2014-2031 plan period, there is expected to be a continued increase in jobs per year, and homes are needed to support workers.

“The proposal is an alternative, suitable use of the property and the loss of the gymnasium should not be resisted as there are many remaining gymnasiums in the town.”

According to planning documents there is no parking provision but there appear to be ‘superfluous‘ parking opportunities on other parts of the street and other roads near the property.

The proprietor of the Old Vicarage Nursery raised ‘concern’ over how the proposed HMO will impact parents dropping off children at the nursery.

They said: “As the proprietor of the early years childcare setting, The Old Vicarage Day Nursery, which is based next door to the proposed development – I would like to register some areas of concern.

“The conversion of the gym into a HMO would put pressure on ‘the drop off and collection zone’ on the road at the front of the nursery where parents need easy access to the nursery site with small children and babies. This necessity will only increase from April 2024 when the new government initiative for free childcare is introduced.”

Westmorland and Furness Council approved this planning application on February 9.