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New flats plan for former GP surgery in Sunderland’s Roker Avenue

The former Roker Family Prcatice, Roker Avenue.
The former Roker Family Prcatice, Roker Avenue.

A former doctors surgery could be transformed into six flats under new plans submitted to Sunderland City Council.

Sunderland Accommodation Services have lodged a ‘change of use’ application for the former Roker Family Practice in Roker Avenue.

In May, the firm applied to convert the space into a five-bedroom ‘dwellinghouse’ but withdrew their bid the following month.

This followed planners receiving objections due to number of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) in the area.

The Echo reported in June on calls are being made to tighten up the rules that allow landlord to turn houses into high-capacity flats as a Sunderland community looks to return its streets to family homes.

The appeal by the Rokereye residents’ group comes as it revealed 60% of the 170-plus properties in Roker Avenue are classed as a Home of Multiple Occupation (HMO) - which is shared accommodation - with up to 10 people living at some addresses.

Residents say the rise of HMOs in the area has led to a host of issues such as drug use and abuse, flytipping, bags of waste being left in back lanes, smashed glass littering the ground and concerns over noise.

They hope that restrictions can be put in place to cap the number of HMOs in Roker and elsewhere across the city, so the issue is not moved elsewhere, as well as measures brought in which could reduce the number of them in time.

New plans include building dormer extensions at both the front and rear of the property to help boost the number of room space.

The Roker Avenue practice was forced to close in 2016 after GP, William Arnett, was struck off by Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service for misconduct.

A spokesman for Sunderland Accommodation Services added there would be a “careful vetting process” for any future tenants.

Neighbours can leave comments on new flats plan until Friday, October 12 with a decision expected by November 14.

To have your say or for more information, visit: www.sunderland.gov.uk/online-applications and search planning ref 18/01603/FUL

Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter