Party houses must play fair, say Brighton and Hove councillors

Posted On 16 Dec 2016 at 2:45 am

Party houses should be licensed and subject to fire regulations and health and safety laws in the same way as small hotels and B&Bs, according to Brighton and Hove councillors.

They have asked the chief executive of Brighton and Hove City Council, Geoff Raw, to write to the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, to make the case.

The move follows a motion put forward by Councillor Adrian Morris, who represents Queen’s Park, aimed at creating “a level playing field with small hotels and B&Bs”.

Councillor Morris spoke at a meeting of the full council last night (Thursday 15 December) at Brighton Town Hall.

He said: “In October 2014, following a report on party houses from an Overview and Scrutiny Panel, it was recommended that a self-regulatory body should be set up to monitor what are known as party houses in the city.

“The Brighton and Hove Holiday Rental Association was formed to work with environmental health, planning enforcement, East Sussex Fire and Rescue and the police.

“Regrettably nothing happened and the association is now defunct. They’ve walked away from their responsibilities.

Councillor Adrian Morris

Councillor Adrian Morris

“I’m not against people coming to our city and enjoying themselves. I’ve partied often with a friend of mine, who has been a Radio One DJ since 1969.

“She was once described by Gillian Reynolds in the Telegraph as ‘first on the dance floor and last under the table’. And she is still partying 45 years later.

“But as long as visitors to our city are not disturbing others, they’re more than welcome.

“I’m reminded of the pylons, the symbolic gateway to Brighton on the A23, commissioned by Herbert Carden.

“On the north side the following words of welcome are inscribed

“‘Hail guest – we ask not what thou art.
If friend, we greet thee – hand and heart.
If stranger, such no longer be.
If foe, our love shall conquer thee.’

“Neither am I anti-business. The night-time economy makes an important financial contribution to the city. But we must get the balance right.

“Too many rowdy stag and hen parties have given the city the wrong image.

“A while ago I found a Court of Appeal case that made a ruling on an owner of a house in Suffolk who was renting it out for short-term holiday lets.

“Neighbours complained to the local planning authority that late night parties and anti-social behaviour by those staying at the house were causing a nuisance – a scenario that is so familiar here.

“The council issued a planning enforcement notice alleging an unlawful change of use of the property from a dwelling house to a commercial leisure accommodation.

“Lord Neuberger, Master of the Rolls, and Lord Justice Longmore were satisfied that the planning inspector had carefully examined the characteristics of the lettings and had reasonably concluded that they amounted to a material change of use.

“Our planning solicitor agrees this case sets a precedent.

“We now have planning enforcement notices served on party houses but this can only be done complaints from residents.

“This is rather like trying to demolish a concrete wall with a hammer made of jelly.

Alexander Browning being treated by paramedics after the balcony collapse in Montpelier Road. Picture by Alexander Browning

Alexander Browning being treated by paramedics after the balcony collapse in Montpelier Road. Picture by Alexander Browning

“Party houses are a problem throughout the country. There have been cases in Bacup in Lancashire, Headingly in Leeds, Gosport in Hampshire and Poole in Dorset. It is so bad in Poole, Conservative MP Robert Syms has asked a question in Parliament.

“We as councillors have a collective duty to protect visitors to our city. We’ve already had a disastrous accident in an Airbnb property.

“People renting a flat used a balcony that was purely decorative and they plummeted to the basement below.

“Injuries were horrific and one person is still suffering from traumatic stress.

“How long will it be before there’s a fire in a party house? I don’t want any death on my conscience and I’m sure all councillors here today don’t want that either.

Clair Corfield following the accident. Picture by Jessica Paterson

Clair Corfield following the accident. Picture by Jessica Paterson

“Party houses must be licensed and subject to current fire, health and safety regulations as are small hotels and B&Bs.

“Then and only then will visitors to our city using such accommodation be able to sleep safely in their beds at night – as we will in ours.”

  1. Al Bion-Street Reply

    Demolishing a concrete wall with a hammer made of jelly should be an Olympic sport.

  2. Terry and June Reply

    Bizarre namedropping quote from Adrian Morris about his pal (what on earth has that got to do with party houses?), and takes away from the point I think everyone has concerns over.

  3. Raaah Reply

    If licenced venues weren’t so restricted this wouldn’t be an issue.

  4. Moosie Reply

    What about student houses, HMO’s AKA party houses? Who is responsible for those, the landlords dont wants to know, the agents dont want to know, the occupants dont care…answers on a postcard please.

  5. Andrew Collins Reply

    If the council provided free ketamin to all these folk there would be none of this nonsense

  6. Debbie Banse Reply

    The BHRA is not defunct and we have not walked away from our responsibilities. All large properties marketed by local agencies have fire risk assessments and a large number have been inspected by ESFRS over the past 2-3 years. The issue lies with platforms such as Airbnb which do not apply the same scrutiny as the responsible agents in Brighton.

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