Plan for another shared house in Brighton to go before councillors

A developer wants to extend a family home and turn it into a six-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) – and council officials have given their backing to the plans.

But neighbours have objected to the planning application to convert 55 Auckland Drive, Brighton, into a shared house and it will fall to councillors to decide the issue.

The plans submitted by developer Rivers Birtwell include a single-storey rear extension and a cycle and bin store in front of the property.

Auckland Drive is in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean ward, where there are restrictions on new shared houses because of the high number in the area.

A report submitted by Rivers Birtwell – run by George Birtwell, 42, and 43-year-old Oliver Dorman – said that two of the 24 homes within a 50-metre radius of the property were currently registered HMOs.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s policy, governed by an “article four direction”, is that no more than 10 per cent of houses within a 50-metre radius of a proposed HMO can be shared homes. And in this area, the figure is 8 per cent.

Rivers Birtwell’s report, prepared by the company’s agent Lewis and Co Planning, said: “The article four direction was introduced to provide a mechanism to control the concentration of shared houses in particular areas of the city.

“The objective of the direction is to manage, rather than prevent, the conversion of houses into HMOs.

“Shared houses play a valuable role in the local housing supply by providing affordable and accessible housing to significant demographics, including students, hospitality workers and young professionals.”

Neighbours have sent seven letters objecting to the application which is due to be decided by the council’s Planning Committee next Wednesday (10 August).

One person objecting to the plans, whose details were redacted by the council, said: “As a local resident, we have seen more and more family houses being made into HMOs in the Coombe Road, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean areas.

“The university and other private firms have built literally thousands of student rooms in new buildings all around this area, the approval by the council given because it would alleviate the pressure of housing stock around here being for students and let families move back in.

“These areas were thriving until the buy-to-let market hit in the late nineties. As residents, we are trying hard to be heard and to create a good community up here. Please let family homes stay as family homes.”

The Planning Committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall at 2pm on Wednesday 10 August. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.

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