A FORMER hotel in Grange-over-Sands is to be turned into 32 new homes – despite a “glut” of houses up for sale in the town, a meeting heard.

The plan for Graythwaite Manor Hotel at Fernhill Road was agreed by South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee.

Chorley-based Blackmores Ltd will build 17 apartments and 15 new houses, with 15.6 per cent of the scheme being affordable.

Resident Valerie Kennedy spoke on behalf of a group of objectors and said there were eight planning reasons the application should be refused.

She said the site was outside the Grange development boundary – the area set aside for housing by South Lakeland District Council’s local plan – and the Grange Neighbourhood Plan.

Mrs Kennedy told the committee: “Grange-over-Sands has a glut of houses on the market. There were over 180 properties being advertised on the internet in this area.

“They were all within one mile of Grange-over-Sands and they ranged from one-bedroom apartments to large detached dwellings, a significant number have been on the market for more than a year and some have been on the market for up to three years.”

Cllr Joanna Greenway, representing Grange Town Council, said the council had a lot of concerns about the “treatment” of the town’s development boundary.

Cllr Greenway added: “The local plan policy wants 35 per cent of developments to be affordable and here we are getting half the usual with 15.63 per cent. That’s not good enough.”

Mark Lynch, development control team leader for SLDC, said the council did not deny the site was outside the area set aside for housing.

He said it was a “sustainable development” which was an ambition of Government policy.

“It’s a building in a conservation area which hasn’t been used for a number of years and if it continues to deteriorate could cause that environmental issues in its own right,” said Mr Lynch.

Planning committee member David Williams said something had to be done to stop the building deteriorating.

“The development is sympathetic and it would be almost invisible to anyone from outside those grounds,” said Cllr Williams, the Conservative councillor for Bowness and Levens.

Cllr Robin Ashcroft, the Liberal Democrat councillor for Grange, said he shared the frustration that the decision appeared to “fly in the face” of the plans.

“We do need to make a decision and I very much doubt that site is viable as a commercial operation. It is an eyesore and I think this is a sympathetic and  attractive development.”

The application was unanimously agreed.