PLANS to convert a former mill into student flats have been refused – with planners saying the proposed flats “do not appear capable of facilitating independent habitation.”

Last year an application was submitted to Bradford Council for the change of use of Hollings Mill, on Sunbridge Road, from office space to 89 studio apartments – aimed at the student market.

The building was built as a wool combing mill, and is former office space for the NHS. Applicant H Hussain described the building as “semi derelict” and said the new flats would be a “comfortable size.”

But the plans to convert the building, which is in the Goitside Conservation Area, into flats have now been refused – with planning officers said the development seemed to be for serviced student accommodation, rather than independent flats.

Today the applicant has submitted another application for the site – this time to convert the building into 59 studio flats, which this time include kitchen facilities.

The refusal was the second setback for the planned development.

Last month another part of the site’s redevelopment – to clear some areas by demolishing structures, including a chimney, were refused by the Council. That application was submitted to create outdoor space for the new flats, but the Council said the brick chimney was a “rarity in the district and county” and needed to be retained.

A second application, to clear some smaller derelict buildings but retain the chimney, have now been submitted to the Council, with a decision expected next month.

The application to turn the building into flats was to change the offices to a “C3” use – which in planning terms is a dwelling house.

The application said: “This area stretching from Thornton Road up to Westgate was a major manufacturing area in the 19th century, and is being reborn with the conversion of many of these former office buildings/warehouses being converted into residential accommodation which brings people back into the city centre, providing easy pedestrian access to major retail offerings, easy access to public mass transit systems. All providing a positive contribution to the area ensuring that the historic fabric of the city’s industrial past is retained for future generations.”

But the planning officers who refused the application pointed out that some of the flats were as small as 21 square metres, and didn’t have basic facilities normally expected for self-contained flats.

Refusing the plans, Council officers said: “The indicative layout of each room illustrated shows the rooms not fully self-contained in the absence of washing/cooker/fridge/freezer/storage facilities in mostly very small rooms – low as 21sqm. Whilst the application as submitted is described as C3 use, there is reasonable doubt to suggest the proposal is aimed at providing student accommodation. The restricted size of many proposed rooms means that they do not appear capable of facilitating independent habitation.”

A Bradford Council spokesperson, said: “This planning proposal was refused because it was for serviced student accommodation which falls outside the change of use categories set out in law.”

The application for the 59 studio flats will be decided in April.