Plans to convert 41 homes in a Finnieston apartment block into ‘hotel’ style rentals for tourists, which have sparked outrage from residents, are set to be decided.
Some landlords paid around £320,000 for their Minerva Street apartments and were shocked to learn that part of their complex could become short-term rentals.
They fear that a high turnover of customers, especially vacationers, will lead to increased nuisance, noise and litter, as well as safety issues.
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Sonder, the company behind the proposal, wants to offer short and long-term serviced apartments and believes a ‘tailor-made management plan’ will prevent a negative impact on residents.
Council planners recommended that the town’s planning committee reject the application at a meeting on Tuesday.
A total of 100 objections were sent to the board while 11 letters of support were received. Politicians including Alison Thewliss MP, Patrick Harvie MSP and councilors have opposed the plans, but the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce is in favour.
Planning officials, who are recommending the denial, said there was a ‘distinction’ between converting an entire block of flats into short-term serviced apartments and converting part of a building in “non-residential use”.
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A council report added: ‘Coupled with the clear overhang and privacy issues that would result for the private residential amenity space, there is no conclusion to be drawn other than the fact that the proposal will have a negative impact on the residential amenity of adjacent residents.
“As the applicant was already operating the proposed use without consent, until action was taken by the planning authority, we also have clear evidence that the proposal will disrupt residential amenities.”
The report added that officials had “expressed significant doubts”, prior to the submission of the application, as to whether the change of use could be considered because development had not been completed. They also advised council policy ‘advised against long-term and short-term apartments in the same building’.
Sonder submitted a legal letter which, according to the firm, “demonstrates that there is no legislative planning policy reason why the request as submitted cannot be validated and determined.”
Following this letter, the council validated the request but remains “not convinced that the applicant is on a solid legal basis”.
Sonder wants to offer serviced apartments on a flexible basis, with a minimum stay of two nights and a maximum length of stay of up to six months.
“The 41 apartments are self-contained in their own stair/elevator cores,” the company said. “No traditional residential apartment will share access to these cores.”
He added: “Sonder operates CCTV in the building and is on site from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Outside these hours there is a security team on call who will deal with any issues, on average within 15 minutes.
“Customers have 24/7 access to Sonder’s management team through the app, text or phone, and there is a dedicated resident line that is available 24/7. for residents in the immediate vicinity.
Cllr Angus Millar, SNP, who represents Anderston/City/Yorkhill, said: “Proposals to turn these new apartments into short-term rentals have caused real concern within the local community, particularly residents who have moved into development only. to see that an international chain of aparthotels wants to convert part of it into tourist accommodation.
“These properties have received planning permission as homes for permanent residents, not as party apartments for transient visitors, and the development is clearly unsuitable for apart-hotel style accommodation.
“Allowing these apartments to become short-term rentals would mean tourists sharing common areas with permanent residents, accessing their accommodation late at night via a compound and courtyard surrounded by houses, and raising concerns about noise and private life.”