Planning officer’s anger at own department’s plan to convert floor of historic Doncaster pub into eight bedsits 

editorial image

A bizarre row has emerged after a Doncaster Council planning officer objected to his own colleague’s recommendation to approve a floor conversion of a historic pub into eight bedsits. 

Planning enforcement officer Don Sorsby publicly objected to case officer Elizabeth Maw’s decision to recommend councillors sign off the development at the now closed Horse & Jockey pub on St Sepulchre Gate West, Town Centre.

In documents seen by councillors, Ms Maw said the upper floor of the pub has already received permission to convert the space into 13 homes of multiple occupancy – more commonly known as bedsits. 

But Mr Sorsby, who is also Unison representative with offices directly next door to the pub, said the development will ‘exacerbate’ problems with current residents who ‘throw rubbish out of windows.  

Doncaster Unison has also provided a formal objection and said the rubbish being ‘thrown onto their land’ had led to a ‘growing problem with rat infestation’ in the area. 

The council also received comments from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) who highlighted the pub’s historical importance to the area and urged any development by SKS Properties to keep key characteristics. 

CAMRA also noted the pub was listed in their ‘best surviving historic public houses in Yorkshire’ back in 2011. 

The bedrooms all have en-suite bathrooms and a communal kitchen is also included in the wider plans. 

In a public letter, Mr Sorsby said the existing conversion ‘breaches planning control’ adding the current standards are ‘abysmal’ with pipework overhanging the property next door’

“The existing tenants deposit rubbish out of windows or over the wall into the next door site,” he said. 

“The conditions you suggest of no sleeping accommodation on the boundary with the adjacent site is a hopeful expectation and with the breaches of planning control that are ongoing the lack of urgency to rectify the breaches planning control by the applicant along with poor design and build of the original leads to expect more of the same.

“I hope that this will go to the planning committee and speakers can elucidate upon the concerns relating to the expansion.”

But planning case officer Elizabeth Maw said: “The proposed change of use of the ground floor will provide low cost accommodation in a vacant building close to the town centre.

“It is acknowledged there are existing issues but this application has been amended to prevent those issues worsening.

“There is no material impact to the external appearance of the building. The proposal is therefore recommended for approval.”

Councillors on the planning committee will have the final say at a meeting in Civic Office on Tuesday, December 11.