A Birkenhead landlord says that a long-running row with the local authority over iron bars in front of his apartment windows is threatening the personal safety of his tenants.
Mark Holt, who rents out residential flats in Hamilton Square, received a letter from Wirral Council in October 2019, demanding the removal of security window bars protecting his groundfloor properties.
he said: “I told the planning officer that the bars have been in situ for more than ten years now before I even bought the apartment and that the design of the bars reflects the railings presumably put in place by the council.
“The council told me that business owners in the square such as solicitor firms were allowed to have security bars on their windows but not residential owners!
“So what we have here is a law that protects business owners and their precious documents but residents are not allowed to protect themselves or their property.”
After months of arguing with the planning officer, Mr Holt said that he finally convinced him of the need for the bars.
But when a new planning officer took over the job, he was told once again that the bars must be removed
Mr Holt said: “The new planning officer is insisting that If I want to keep the bars that I must alter them and put in some retrospective planning consent consisting of four major documents, which will cost me a lot of money and time.
“He also says that he believes that such planning permission will not be granted.
“I for one, am not going to risk my tenants safety for Wirral Council. Unless they give me an assurance that the current bars (with alterations) will be allowed through planning and that they help me with this, then the bars must remain.”
A spokesperson for Wirral Council said: “This property is a Grade I listed building and is within the Hamilton Square Conservation Area.
“That means any works that will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest requires Listed Building Consent.
“The council has powers to require the current owner to reverse any work that is carried out without this consent, regardless of whether they themselves carried out the alteration.
“In this specific case, the bars are not acceptable in terms of their appearance and where they are located.
“However, as part of an application for listed building consent, the owner can make their case for security measures at the basement level and the council is willing to discuss alternative options that could safeguard the architectural character of the Grade I listed building, whilst also maintaining security for the occupiers of the flat.”