Brighton landlord given go ahead to turn family home into shared house despite neighbours’ objections
A Brighton landlord has been given planning permission to turn a family home in Hollingdean into a shared house despite objections from more than two dozen neighbours.
Lee Bolingbroke, of Withdean Close, Brighton, wants to turn a four-bedroom two-storey mid-terrace house in Barnett Road into a five-bedroom shared house.
He wants to turn the lounge into a bedroom and the kitchen into a kitchen and dining room.
Members of the Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee debated Mr Bolingbroke’s application for about an hour this afternoon (Wednesday 30 March).
Most of the 12 councillors at the meeting – held at Portslade Town Hall – expressed sympathy for the neighbours.
But seven were persuaded of the case for granting permission to turn the property into an HMO (house in multiple occupation).
Councillor Tracey Hill, one of the Labour councillors who represents Hollingdean and Stanmer Ward, spoke against the application.
Councillor Hill, who is not a member of the Planning Committee, said that the property was already a shared house – despite not having permission. And, she said, neighbours had already had to complain about noise.
She was concerned that other homes near by were unauthorised HMOs in an area that already had a significant number of student houses.
The council’s policy is to refuse planning permission for prospective HMOs if 10 per cent of the properties within 50 metres are already shared houses.
In this case there were three HMOs within 50 metres – or just over 8 per cent.
Committee members were warned that if they refused permission, the applicant would have good grounds for appeal and the council would risk footing the bill, which could include the applicant’s legal fees.
Two councillors – Andrew Wealls, a Conservative, and Labour member Les Hamilton – criticised the quality of the investigation into the extent of shared houses in the area.
Mr Bolingbroke, the landlord, sent a letter to the committee. He said that he was an experienced landlord and had let property for over 16 years.
He said: “I understand the neighbours’ concerns.”
He was willing to give them his mobile phone number so that they could call him if there were any problems – noise and rubbish were two mentioned by objectors.
Mr Bolingbroke said: “I am willing to pay for a gardener to keep the garden tidy.”
And he added: “I feel there is a strong need locally to provide students with good quality housing.
“The students I have dealt with over the years have been very sensible.”
Green councillor Dick Page said: “I have a lot of HMOs in my ward which are not on the HMO register.
“We’ve got a large number of residents near by who are objecting as well as a very well-informed ward councillor.
“We have to be bold and send a message that there are enough student households in this neighbourhood.”
But his fellow Green, Phélim Mac Cafferty, a former chairman of the Planning Committee, said that they had to make a decision on the evidence in front of them.
Three councillors voted against the application, two abstained and seven supported it.