CONTROVERSIAL plans for flats at a town restaurant have been put on hold by councillors.

A West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) planning committee met on Monday to discuss the creation of eight flats at the building which used to be Hackett’s in Witney.

However, that discussion was shelved after revised plans were submitted.

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The committee subsequently deferred making a decision to its next meeting, currently scheduled for May 24.

Hackett's restaurant attracted controversy last year when it was accused of paying staff late and not in full, owing employees ‘thousands’.

Owner Dave Hackett – who was leasing the space but has now left – admitted things had ‘gone too far’ and that he owed some staff ‘a lot of money’.

Now, the owner of the building – Maple Homes – wants to build a two-storey side extension at the Wesley Walk cafe for flats.

The company was already granted permission last year for the creation of six flats, and is now seeking permission to increase the height of the roof in order to create two additional one-bedroom flats in the roof space.

The ground floor would be retained as a retail or commercial unit.

Prior to the meeting, council officer Miranda Clark had recommended the two extra flats be refused.

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Outlining her reasons in a report, she said: “By reason of the increased roof height to accommodate further residential accommodation, the proposal will adversely affect the visual appearance of the architect designed building.

“Furthermore, the introduction of multiple roof lights will be overbearing and unduly harmful to the character of the conservation area, failing to preserve or enhance it.

“The proposal will result in unacceptable living accommodation in the roof space, with minimal floor to ceiling heights, lack of natural light and outlook and no amenity space.”

However, after the new, revised plans were submitted to the council, she asked the committee to defer its decision so that a formal consultation can run on the latest proposals.

Witney Town Council previously said it had no objection to the two extra flats.

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The town council response read: “Witney Town Council has no objection to the application in principle but would like clarification that the storage area and cycle store is accessible for the flats and not just the retail unit on the ground floor.”

There was also no objection from Oxfordshire County Council, which is the highways authority, however the WODC report raised concerns about parking availability.

The report stated: “Officers are concerned that given no on site parking is provided, that the additional flats will use the adjacent West Oxfordshire District Council car parks which will put extra pressure on town centre car parking.”

To view the proposals, visit the district council website’s planning pages and search for the application number 20/03185/FUL.