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Porn studio's neighbours campaign against plan to convert building into housing for 'transient migrants'

PAY Bristol glamour star Michelle Thorne from Phil Barrys porn studio

Residents are campaigning to stop a blue movie studio being turned into bedsits over fears it would attract migrant workers - because they prefer the porn stars.

More than 35 locals have opposed the move and some have even threatened to sell their homes if the plans to turn the building into housing for up to 40 people go ahead.

Until recently, the property, in St George, Bristol, was being run as a studio for making porn films and live streaming by Phil Barry, husband of 48-year-old porn star Cathy Barry.

But owner Mike Hobbins wants to transform it into a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) with 20 double rooms, which he says would help solve the city’s housing crisis.

SWNSUnhappy Local Residents of Ebenezer Road
Residents outside the building in Ebenezer Road, St George, Bristol

Neighbours claim the development will “bludgeon the neighbourhood to death”, as it could attract transient workers from overseas.

Naomi Maggs, a 38-year-old mum-of-two who lives opposite the building, in Ebenezer Street, said she will consider selling her house if the planning application is granted.

She said: “The porn studio wasn’t really a problem and any problems we did have, we spoke to the owner and it got sorted.

SWNSPorn star Cathy Barry wife of owner Phil Barry
Porn star Cathy Barry, wife of studio owner Phil Barry
SWNSBristol glamour star Michelle Thorne from Phil Barry's porn studio
Michelle Thorne is one of Britain's best known adult movies stars

“But this is going to be 40 people coming and going every six months. It’s going to drive people out of St George.

Read more: Fifty Shades of Grey-style hotel planned in Grade II listed Kent building

Naomi, who has lived on the street for 11 years, added: “HMO is as many people as you can possibly get into a building per square foot.,”

“It’s people who are on short term rental contracts, so it’s not people who want to come and be a part of the community.

“They don’t have any respect for the building, the street, the neighbours in the area.”

If the plans go ahead, 20 large bedrooms with private bathrooms, plus communal kitchens and amenities like laundry rooms, will be created in the property.

A basement bicycle store would also be added, with space for up to 50 bikes, but no car parking will be included.

SWNSOwner Mike Hobbins talking to residents of Ebenezer Street
Building owner Mike Hobbins talking to residents of Ebenezer Street
SWNSOwner Mike Hobbins talking to residents of Ebenezer Street

Architect Martin Farrell, who drew up the plans, said the building could be ideal for transient workers who are “in a position where they go from job to job”.

Resident Annie Bentley, who lives in a flat overlooking the property, said it would attract migrant workers to the area.

She said: “We understand the need for housing in Bristol, but transient sounds like people who need a hostel or hotel, not offering any kind of quality to the demographics of our neighbourhood.

“Everybody knows the need for housing in Bristol is important, but this is not for the people of Bristol, it’s for people coming in from overseas short-term.”

SWNSPorn Studio on Ebenezer Road
The building could house up to 40 people if planning permission is granted

Developer Mr Hobbins, who owns a smaller but similar development in nearby Clouds Hill Road, said he would offer a six-month rolling rental agreement.

He said the development would not target overseas workers and said only professionals would be accepted.

He said: “I think it’s part of the way we are solving the housing crisis.”

More than 35 objections have been submitted by residents. Bristol City Council is to consider the application in May.

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