Plans for two student houses in Brighton turned down by government inspectors

Posted On 29 Jul 2017 at 12:12 am

Plans for two student houses in Brighton have been turned down by government inspectors after the same developer took both cases to appeal.

Rivers Birtwell was refused permission to increase the number of bedrooms from four to nine in a shared house – or house in multiple occupation (HMO) – at 25 Wheatfield Way, Moulsecoomb.

The Brighton property business was also refused permission to increase the number of bedrooms from five to nine at 63 Park Road, Coldean.

Brighton and Hove City Council turned down both planning applications in January. The decisions have now been upheld after an appeal by the company.

The council said: “The government has supported the city council in two more cases in its stand against overdevelopment of student housing in former family homes in Brighton and Hove.

“The council has now won at least 11 appeals on houses in multiple occupation in just over a year as it fights to maintain balanced communities within the city.

“At 25 Wheatfield Way, government inspector Rory MacLeod dismissed an appeal against the council refusing planning permission in January to increase capacity from four to nine bedrooms.

“Mr MacLeod gave as his main reason, ‘the effect an HMO would have on the living conditions of the occupiers of nearby properties, particularly in relation to noise and disturbance.’

“Mr MacLeod noted neighbours had already complained about nuisance from the existing property.

“At 63 Park Road, government inspector Cullum Parker dismissed an appeal against the council refusing in January permission to increase the HMO’s capacity from five to nine bedrooms.

“Despite having no permission the changes had already been made.

“Mr Parker gave his reasons as the fact that eight out of nine bedrooms were below minimum national space guidelines of 7.5 square metres.

“There was no suitable communal living space other than a kitchen and dining room.

“The inspector concluded the arrangements would ‘cause material harm to the living conditions of occupants’.”

Councillor Tracey Hill

The lead member for private rented housing Councillor Tracey Hill said: “The universities bring important cultural benefits and jobs.

“But that must be balanced against the fact that HMOs can cause problems for the neighbours and that those problems are likely to be worse if HMOs are too large or too concentrated in one area.

“We also need to be watchful to ensure landlords are not cramming too many people into buildings to maximise financial returns at the expense of the occupants’ welfare.”

Since May 2015 the council has also won HMO appeals against unauthorised use at

17 Bernard Road

69 Ewhurst Road

28 Lower Bevendean Avenue

39 Newmarket Road

45 Newmarket Road

19 Riley Road

22 St Mary Magdalene Street

64 Upper Lewes Road

21 Upper Wellington Road

In April 2013 the council assumed special powers meaning that landlords need planning permission to convert family homes into shared houses in five council wards.

The five wards are

  • Hanover and Elm Grove
  • Hollingdean and Stanmer
  • Moulsecoomb and Bevendean
  • Queen’s Park
  • St Peter’s and North Laine

In March a council report said that since the new rules were introduced, 270 planning investigations have been started, resulting in 24 enforcement notices requiring HMOs to stop operating.

  1. Hovelassies Reply

    Tracey Hill is “flaky” – inconsistent and/or hypocritical. She turns a blind eye to the fact that BHCC itself spends millions with a few select private landlords on revolting HMO hostel accommodation without contracts or quality assurance (beyond the basic fire safety and damp requirements outlined in HMO licence). She is on record endorsing the continued habitation of a partly burned out HMO owned by one of BHCC’s “special” landlords despite the fact that HMOs are meant to be kept in licencable condition for the duration of the licence. Seems to be different rules for different people in this city.

  2. Sammy Reply

    There is no such thing as “student houses” – there are Houses of Multiple Occupation(HMOs) but there is nothing to specify the employment status of the tenants. HMO just specifies people who are not “related” – whatever that means. There are thousands of sharers the city who live in houses, which are classed as HMOs in some parts of the city but not in others – students, part-time students, nurses, teachers, police officers, retail workers, call centre workers, IT workers, hospitality industry employees, etc. etc.

  3. ngie Reply

    I personally think that the council should buy back some of these houses for Brighton born families. Sadly there are way too many flats being built for the goddamn student population, of whom do NOT recycle leave their rubbish strewn around the sreets and cause disturbance for the long standing residents . This council and property developers alike focus way too much on student population instead of the city’s own growing population.Especially as the owners of HMO’s do NOT pay council tax

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