A landlord’s second attempt to dig out a basement to extend a shared house was rejected by councillors.
Syed Shah wanted to dig out a new basement and add a rear extension to 22 Hanover Terrace, Brighton, currently a small house in multiple occupation (HMO) for five people.
The application, which went before Brighton and Hove City Council’s Planning Committee today (Wednesday 9 March), was to add a sixth bedroom, laundry room and TV room in the basement and widen the kitchen on the ground floor.
A previous application in 2019 to dig out a basement level was refused on appeal.
Green councillor Steph Powell, who represents Hanover and Elm Grove ward, spoke against the application as she, along with fellow ward councillor, Elaine Hills, backed residents who objected to the plans.
Councillor Powell said: “We appreciate the immense shortage of housing in the city. Cramming more people into a small space is not the answer and could set an awful precedent for the street.
“The owner won’t be living there. They will be digging out a basement for no purpose other than personal profit, causing a disturbance for months to the people living in close proximity.”
Hanover Terrace resident Phil Yeoman said that there were no four-storey houses in the road or basements with three storeys above them and the scheme would set a precedent for overdevelopment.
He said that removing the trees from the site had damaged the biodiversity, which Mr Shah did not address by adding a bee brick.
A statement from Mr Shah’s agent, Sean Gattick, of Garrick Architects, was read out to the meeting at Hove Town Hall.
Mr Garrick said that the new application addressed the reasons for the previous refusal and would not have an unacceptable or harmful effect on neighbouring buildings.
Conservative councillor Anne Meadows asked if the council would be considered responsible if digging out the basement resulted in the building falling into a hole.
She was told that this was not a planning consideration but subject to building regulations.
Labour councillor Daniel Yates was concerned about the safety of the proposals as the window into the proposed basement level provide minimal light and no means of escape.
He said: “It’s not a significant light well, and there’s no real place to go.
“I don’t consider it is a particularly good use for a new development of a bedroom.
“That’s different to ‘does it fit in with the lovely conservation nature of really old houses that were built in times when we didn’t have planning restrictions in place’.”
Green councillor Marianna Ebel said that she did not consider the plans acceptable and would vote against them.
She said: “I think the basement will feel very dark because there are no windows that allow you to see the sky.
“It will feel a bit like being in a shoebox. I don’t think anyone should have to live in such a bedroom.”
The committee voted to refuse the plans.