The owners of a Brighton house who moved in students after being told to convert it back into a family home are making another attempt at getting planning permission.
Mr and Mrs Donald Rayward were first told by Brighton and Hove City Council to stop renting 17 Bernard Road as a house of multiple occupation (HMO) in August last year – a decision which was then upheld by a planning inspector on appeal in June this year.
Despite this, seven new student tenants moved in unaware of the notice in September, paying a reported £3,332 a month, and now face eviction as if they are still there on December 9, the Raywards face prosecution.
But this month, Mr and Mrs Rayward’s company Millhouse Enterprises has submitted a new application to turn it into an HMO, reducing the number of occupants from seven to six – which also puts it into a different planning class.
The application includes a statement from consultants Lewis & Co Planning, which says: “From the previous appeal documents, it is understood that over 10% of the dwellings within a 50m radius of the house are in HMO use [the council’s policy is to refuse small or C4 HMOs which would exceed this threshold].
“Notwithstanding the 50m radius issue it is the applicant’s case that planning permission should be granted for the use of this dwelling as a C4 HMO on the grounds that no actual harm is caused to the neighbourhood by the occupation by six individuals.
“This house is as likely to be occupied by young professionals or nurses from the nearby hospital as it is students. There is no evidence that the occupation of the house by unrelated individuals causes any visual or other harm to the area.
“There have been no formal complaints of noise made to the relevant authorities and this can only support the assertion that noise from the house is not unreasonable.”
However, in her published decision on the original enforcement notice, planning inspector Katie Peerless said: “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.”
And one Bernard Road resident said the house had caused many problems in the past – and complaints had also been made about the new residents.
They said: “Just because not everyone complained ‘officially’ doesn’t mean there wasn’t problems. Everyone was relieved when the last students left.
“The current students had one mad all night party last month which caused a lot of neighbours to complain but they have been fine since and to be fair to them they were polite enough to let neighbours either side know about the party.
“There are far too many HMO houses in Bernard Road and surrounding streets which is causing a lot of unrest in the area and is forcing families to leave and move somewhere more peaceful. This isn’t fair as primarily this was an area of families and elderly people.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “Planning enforcement served a planning enforcement notice on the owners of 17 Bernard Road 11 August 2014 requiring that, ‘cease the use of the property as a house of multiple occupation (HMO) (Sui Generis).’ The time given for compliance was six months.
“The term Sui Generis is a latin term which, in this case, means a large HMO (7 or more students)…. It’s actually a latin term meaning ‘in a use of it’s own’ but for the purposes of this case it refers to a large HMO.
The notice was appealed by the owners to the planning inspector who dismissed the appeal on 9 June 2015. The owner therefore needs to comply with the enforcement notice by 9 December 2015 or he could face prosecution for non-compliance with the enforcement notice.
“A planning application has been received for “Change of Use from residential dwelling (C3) to House in Multiple Occupation (C4). (Part retrospective)” BH2015/03534.
“In this case the C4 use class represents six students so they are making a planning application to seek planning permission to house fewer students in the property.
“Notwithstanding this planning application the owner still needs to comply with the enforcement notice by 9 December to avoid prosecution.”
The house, sold as a three bedroom house for £119,000 in 1999, was bought by Millhouse Enterprises on February 15, 2013 for £339,000. If rented out from September 2013 at a similar rental income to the current £3,332 a month, it will have made the Raywards about £79,000 before tax, any mortgage interest repayments, conversion and maintenance costs.