AN office block in Chelmsford city centre will become flats - despite concerns it will have no benefit to existing residents.

Chelmsford Council’s planning committee agreed the change of use for Cater House in High Street.

However, there was discontent because the panel had no powers to force conditions like affordable housing or comestic changes to the eight-storey building.

Developers Land Charter want to convert the block from floor two upwards into 35 apartments to be known as CanSide.

New Government legislation means vacant offices can be changed to another use without going through planning committees.

But as the building neighbours the River Can and is in a flood risk zone, the council was required to have the final say.

There was no objection from the Environment Agency, so councillors passed the application.

Committee members though including Tory Neil Gulliver, councillor responsible for planning, said they would have like to have seen more done to the building.

He said: “Applications like this have no benefit to our residents.

“With any plans similar to this we always try to get some kind of benefit for residents in Chelmsford whether it be the building’s appearance or getting affordable housing included.

“I can understand why the policy was brought in but I believe it should be more flexible for the advantage of local people.”

Developers said they are looking to renovate the “iconic” building back to it’s former glory.

This includes works on the windows, cleaning the structure and using multi-storey car parking already attached to the structure.

Henrik Darlington, from Land Charter, said: “Our specification will match the very best of modern design and materials with a touch of the late sixties styling to recognise the era of the buildings construction.”

The first apartments are due to be finished next month.