Planning inspector overrules council on seven shared houses in Brighton

Neighbours objected and the council said no – but seven more Brighton properties can be used as shared houses after planning permission was granted on appeal.

All seven are in wards where Brighton and Hove City Council restricts the conversion of family homes into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

And all seven are in wards where thousands of students live and where there have been tensions between existing residents and younger temporary tenants.

The properties are in Ashurst Road, Brading Road, Coldean Lane, Hartington Road, Park Road, Richmond Street and Stanmer Villas.

The owners were refused planning permission by the council or served with enforcement notices and each appealed, with government-appointed planning inspectors upholding their appeals.

Neighbours sent 28 objections to the council when Co-Living Spaces, the owner of 57 Richmond Street, Brighton, proposed converting a family home into a shared house for six people.

The plans, which included changes to the roof space, prompted concerns about increased noise, strains on parking and the loss of another family home in Queen’s Park ward.

Planning inspector Janette Davis said that objections to the roof dormer were “not relevant”.

She said: “Some local residents have raised concern regarding potential noise and disturbance from both within and outside the building.

“Although the change of use to a HMO would be likely to intensify the occupancy and use of the building, with up to six occupiers this would not be of a level which would be over and above that expected within a residential area.”

More than a dozen neighbours objected to David Symons’s plans to turn a four-bedroom end-of-terrace house at 114 Stanmer Villas into a six-bedroom property.

The council said that the property, near Fiveways, did not have enough communal space but planning inspector Tim Crouch said: “I saw on my site visit that the open plan communal kitchen and living space is light and open, with internal access from the corner.

“There is sufficient space to circulate and for occupants to find some personal space.”

He said that he appreciated the concerns but there was no “substantive evidence” to cause him to come to a different conclusion.

A map with blue dots showing the location of registered shared houses in part of Brighton

Two other appeals in the same ward – Hollingdean and Stanmer – related to enforcement notices. One was for a house at 27 Coldean Lane where 11 neighbours had opposed an application to change it from a five-bedroom property to one with seven bedrooms.

Changes to the roof and the addition of a rear dormer prompted officials to issue an enforcement notice but it was quashed on appeal.

And a similar notice was quashed for 31 Park Road, also in Coldean, where a roof dormer had been built and a family home was turned into a shared house.

In Hanover and Elm Grove ward an enforcement notice served on the owner of a seven-bedroom shared house at 84 Brading Road was quashed by planning inspector David Hainsworth.

The council had refused to grant planning permission for changes to the property, saying that it was cramped because of the subdivisions to existing rooms.

And, the council said, the changes “failed to support a mixed and balanced community” as there were already a significant number of HMOs in the area.

Neighbours sent 13 letters of objection to the planning application.

The owner Mark Shields appealed against the council’s decision. He said that the house had not been a family home for at least 20 years and the HMO had had a licence since April 2009 without planning permission.

The planning inspector said that the increase in activity would “not have a noticeable impact” on the community.

The council said that a single-storey rear extension and a dormer and windows in the roof of 55 Hartington Road were “facilitating” an unauthorised change of use from a three-bedroom to six-bedroom HMO to more than seven bedrooms.

The owner Andrew Marchant succeeded in his appeal against an enforcement notice.

Planning inspector Sandra Prail said: “I have considered the evidence before me as to the sequence of events.

“It shows that the use of the site as a large HMO has ceased. The works are therefore not currently facilitating (HMO use) and I am not satisfied that the works were part of parcel of the previous HMO use.”

Directors of another property owner, Rivers Birtwell, run by Oliver Dorman and George Birtwell, lodged two appeals in relation to a house at 20 Ashurst Road in Moulsecoomb.

The first appeal was against an enforcement notice which alleged that a family home had been turned into a nine-bedroom shared house without planning permission.

The council said that the unauthorised changes included building work in the roof to enable a loft conversion including a rear dormer.

The second appeal was against the council’s refusal to grant a certificate of lawfulness for the roof extension.

Planning permission was granted for a seven-bedroom shared house in 2013, shortly after the council tightened up the rules using a policy known as an “article four direction”.

The tougher regime restricts the number of shared houses in an area and can mean fewer rights to make small-scale changes without planning permission.

But planning inspector Victor Ammoun allowed the changes and said: “The change from seven to nine bedrooms is a significant proportionate increase but I consider that it has not altered the perceived character of the use.

“The physical changes to the roof complied with … size and form requirements and thus were within the range of changes potentially normal within the nearby similar houses.”

  1. Rolivan Reply

    Why are there so many different Planning inspectors covering the City,surely if one or two at the most did the job they would see what is going on?

  2. Simon Exley Reply

    Clearly these planning inspectors have never lived next door to students. Constant parties, shouting, banging doors etc. I used to dread summer, because it would spill out into the garden as well. Gave up trying to have a quiet Sunday in the garden and just let it grow over. So glad we moved.

  3. bradly Reply

    unelected Planning inspectors are better that elected cllrs (who have only their voters to consider) as to what is fair and reasonable in all the circs…..

  4. Pingback: Planning inspector overrules council on seven shared houses in Brighton - Commercial Finance Network

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