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.
Henfield 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.
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.
“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.
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