Unauthorised Brighton student houses to be converted back into family homes

Posted On 11 Jun 2015 at 2:58 pm

Two Brighton houses currently occupied by students will have to be converted back into family homes after a planning inspector agreed they should never have been converted.

17 Bernard Road. Image taken from Google StreetviewHenfield developers Mr and Mrs Donald Rayward appealed against an enforcement notice issued by Brighton and Hove City Council in August last year after students continued to live in the house despite planning permission being refused in January.

But today, inspector Katie Peerless agreed with the council that 17 Bernard Road, originally a three bedroom home, should not be a house of multiple occupation.

If the Raywards do not comply with the enforcement notice, they now face prosecution.

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And Ms Peerless also today announced she was upholding the council’s refusal of landlord Paul Griffin’s retrospective application to turn the house next door at number 15 into yet another student house.

Neighbour Carol Homewood welcomed the news, saying number 17 had been a particular problem in the street.

She said: “Some of the student houses are fine, but this particular one has been trouble.

“Since the students moved in, there’s been all night parties – god help the people who live right next door to it.

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“They have been a nightmare the last couple of months. They go out in their gardens all night and my husband was knocking on their door and asking them to turn it down, which they did for a bit, but then it went right back up again.

“It’s annoying all the neighbours, we have just had enough.”

Publishing her decision on number 17, Ms Peerless said: “The change of use has already been noticed by nearby residents who have complained about noise levels from the property, which have been the result of the type and intensity of the use.

“Despite the appellants stating that there have been no objections to the proposal, I have received four detailed complaints about the impacts of the current levels and type of occupation, in addition to the concerns raised by the council.”

She noted that all the living rooms had been turned into bedrooms, and the attic converted into two more bedrooms to accommodate seven unrelated adults.

She added: “Such a group, who in this case would normally be students, are likely to have different lifestyles from working families with young children and the way they use the building is already having an impact on the amenity of their neighbours.

“There have been reports of a greater level of night time comings and goings, in noisier and larger groups, than would generally be the case in a residential street and these have provided disturbing to other residents.”

The city’s lead councillor for housing and new homes Anne Meadows said:  “I very much welcome these two decisions.

“We are committed to ensuring that the city strikes the right balance between HMOs and long-term residents.

“There are clear regulations that make us able to ensure that neighbourhoods will maintain their residential characteristics and that Brighton and Hove remains a vibrant city in which we all live and work.”

The lease for number 17 ends this month, and it is not advertised for let by G4lets, which manages the Raywards’ student properties.

Today’s appeal rulings strengthen the council’s policy to not grant planning permission for houses of multiple occupation in five wards within the city if 10% of houses within a 50m radius are already HMOs.

The policy, implemented via an article 4 direction on 5 April 2013, applies to Hanover and Elm Grove, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, Queen’s Park and St. Peters and North Laine, with plans to extend it further to include Brunswick & Adelaide, Central Hove, East Brighton, Goldsmid, Preston Park, Regency and Westbourne.

The council also requires landlords to licence large HMOs, requiring them to meet certain standards and tackle any anti-social behaviour. And since 2012, smaller HMOs in the key five wards have also had to be licensed.

New licenses have been issued in the restricted wards since 2013, but the council believes most of these were to existing HMOs which were not already registered, which had changed hands or were renewing expired licences.

Even if a licence is granted to an HMO which does not have planning permission, as was the case with both these houses, the council can still take planning enforcement action as it has on 17 Bernard Road.

  1. Ian Healey Reply

    Ah yes G4lets, seems to be a pattern as they have done the same thing in a house opposite me in Hollingbury Park Avenue. Converting a house for HMO use, then applying for retrospective planning permission. This company should be made aware that rules are rules even for big organisations.

  2. Simon Reply

    The rules on HMOs within certain wards seem to be a lie. We come under Bevendean, and out of the 20 hours in a 50m radius, from what we know of 40% of those are HMOs/Student Lets.

  3. Sue Reply

    Glad to see these issues being raised in the press to try and help more balanced communities. Simon is correct the student housing in Bevendean is frequently more dense than allowed, plus the enforcement team seem uninterested in unlicensed properties.

  4. Henry Page Reply

    Last week I went to see my parents former home, 26 Bevendean Crescent. I was aghast to see what had been done to it. The property was in the throes of being converted to what seems to be 6 or 7 bedroom house (it was a 3 bedroom house) with the sitting room divided into two. There were so many student houses in the street it was difficult to see how any family could enjoy their home. Brighton City Council appear very slapdash about this policy. I agree with Simon (below) that the situation seems out of control.

    • Christine Reply

      We live opposite this her and agree with you. Way too many student houses in this street now. Would love to move away but can’t at moment. We moved here in 1995 and not one student house then. Definitely more than 10 percent on our street would say more likely 40 percent.

  5. Ros Lopez Reply

    G4 lets have just applied for planning permission to turn the house next door to me from 2 family flats into a house with a loft conversion and dormer. Brighton and Hove Planning dept have given them permission under permitted development.
    G4 plan will then turn it into a 6 bedroom HMO , making 3 houses out of 6 in my street into HMO’s !
    What can I do ?

  6. Ros Lopez Reply

    I live in St Peter’s ward and G4 lets have just bought 4 out of 6 houses in my street : London Terrace,

  7. Nadia Burtenshaw Reply

    I don’t understand why HMO’s are not charged business rates as they are a business, if filled with students they don’t even pay council tax. Also as a business why don’t they also pay for rubbish removal the same as any other law abiding business, maybe if they paid these charges we wouldn’t get as many houses being converted. Maybe if all the HMO’S paid this then normal peoples council tax could even be reduced!

  8. Georgia Fleet Reply

    I’ve just moved in to 17 Bernard Road, we we’re completely unaware of everything going on, G4Lets did advertise this place, we were also told there were no noise complaints from previous years from this house! We’ve just received a letter saying we’re being evicted in two months and we’re absolutely distraught, we worked so hard to find a 7 bed house which was nice which we could all live in as we’re all very close and very good friends, we had this house sorted out since January this year! Only 30% of students at the University of Brighton get halls, so basically everyone (even first years) are forced into housing and are forced into the awful-ness that is student landlords. We had such a horrible year last year with our landlords, and now this. AND to make things worse, in the middle of our exams is when we will be being evicted. G4Lets have completely ruined our year and the stress we are now under is immense. We’re not the only students in this situation, and I dread to think how many of us are being evicted. We don’t mean to be loud and noisy, we only had a moving in party, we tried to let everyone in the surrounding houses know about it way in advance, we really did try our best. We have no plans to have any other parties, if you saw our house inside it is clean, we are not horrible people and are certainly not threatening ‘gangs’ roaming the street.

    I’m sorry the students before us obviously caused you havoc, but with no student halls, and now no houses, where are we supposed to go?

    Georgia Fleet

  9. Christine Reply

    I understand what you say georgia, but unfortunately there r not many students like you around, about 90 percent of you are a nightmare to live next door too.
    We have student house next door to us at Brendan crescent which is suppose to only have 4 students in there, but most of the time they have back about 1 or 2 friends each, then the music starts,and or loud talking/shouting. At the moment think one of them go drum set for Christmas and have to deal with that too. Bloody nightmare. Just hope when you lit finally settle down, get jobs and have kids you get some students living next door to you.
    Rant over.

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