Brighton shared house plan turned down by councillors

A developer was refused permission to turn a house with a tiny kitchen into a student house.

Councillors were concerned about the number of people using the small kitchen at 7a Southover Street, particularly as it was the only way to get through to one of the building’s toilets.

Alpha Projects (Sussex) Ltd had applied for planning permission to change the home into a four-bedroom house of multiple occupation (HMO).

The ground floor plans were for a living room, separate kitchen and two separate toilets.

The Spearhead

Two bedrooms were proposed for both the first and second floor, with a smaller third room designated as a study.

The Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee was told that there was only one licensed HMO within a 50-metre radius – so there were not too many in the immediate vicinity for another to be permitted, according to council policy.

But Brighton University has four halls of residence blocks within the area.

Green councillor Steph Powell, who represents Hanover and Elm Grove ward, told the committee that she did not understand why the halls of residence opposite were not counted.

She told the committee at Hove Town Hall: “It’s going to affect the amenities in the area.

“The key thing is it is going to affect the community spirit of Hanover.

“You have these huge student buildings opposite. Would you really consider that as one home or hundreds of people on short-term lets in the building?

“The halls are right opposite. It’s going to pave the way for more student accommodation in the area. It’s something people don’t want.”

Labour councillor Daniel Yates said that the kitchen fell short of what was required for three or four occupiers.

“Those study areas could be at some stage used as bedrooms with appropriate planning permission. Then that kitchen space would be significantly less.”

He said: “I consider the standard of accommodation to be completely unsuitable for four occupiers, which is what they’re applying for, down to the grounds the kitchen is not a suitable size and space standard and because the kitchen gives access to another WC, resulting in extra throughput and access requirements.

“I would expect it to be larger not smaller than the minimum space standard.”

Councillor Steph Powell

Conservative councillor Dee Simson was concerned that the property was already in use as a shared house and was told that it had been in the past.

She backed Councillor Yates and said: “The space is too small. I don’t like the fact the toilet is off the kitchen.

“It restricts the standard let alone the space.”

Labour councillor Tracey Hill, who chairs the Planning Committee, said: “I concur with both Councillor Yates and Councillor Simson as the standard of accommodation is too poor.

“The communal space is insufficient and I think the study areas are inappropriate.”

Councillors voted unanimously to refuse permission as the proposed space and standard of the accommodation was unacceptable for a shared house.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    This was the theme of the Meeting. An earlier HMO Application was thrown out, when the “developer” clearly riled the Committee by his belligerent attitude, demanding that they come to meet him about forthcoming applications along similar lines and saying that he could not tell “professional” lodgers how to live (significantly, he had already installed thick insulation). There was a third HMO Application, but there has not yet been a report about the way that one went. Even so, these two cases show the way the Committee is tacking over the subject, and Planning Officers will surely be suggesting to Applicsnts that they cannot assume Applications will get through. As I say, that first developer caused special damage for all developers by his rebarbative attitude. A classic case of the wrong person to be a Public Speaker. How very much better, the speech by a neighbour. And, of course, the strong one by cllr Powell about the Southover St. one with its surreal lavatory/kitchen which, understandably, disturbed cllr Yates’s sensibilities.

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