CONTROVERSIAL plans from a new three storey building in a conservation area in Minehead are due to be decided on this week.

Somerset West & Taunton Council's planning committee will vote on whether to allow Julian's Laundry in Market House Lane be demolished and replaced with seven apartments and space for a shop and/or professional service outlet.

The council's planning officers have recommended the application for approval with several conditions, with the committee due to meet virtually on Thursday (August 20).

However the plan is not without its detractors.

Minehead Town Council has objected on grounds of the design not being in keeping with the aesthetic of the conservation area, a lack of parking, and access for construction vehicles.

MTC is calling on committee members to defer the decision for a site visit.

The Highways Authority states that it 'does not consider the proposal the most practical, where sustainable travel opportunities have their limitations'.

The council's conservation officer is also against the plan, saying the applicants should rethink the design to make it more sympathetic to the conservation area.

Meanwhile Minehead Conservation Society argue that the impact on the surrounding cottages and other buildings should be regarded as 'an act of vandalism'.

However the planning officers at Somerset West & Taunton Council state in their report to the committee that the proposed use fits very well with the government's policy favouring the rejuvenation of high streets through the inclusion of residential use above shops.

The planning officers also note that the building's three-storey height, while taller than the existing laundry building, is no higher than the nearby Queens Head Inn.

The report states: "It is not considered that the proposed blocks would have a dominating or intrusive impact."

The planning officers also add that 'on balance' the lack of any car parking spaces provided is acceptable as it is close to the town centre and will encourage the use of sustainable transport.