23 October 2013

Council to investigate 'party house' nuisance

Noisy 'party houses' in Brighton & Hove are to the subject of an investigation by the city council.

A cross-party scrutiny panel has been set up to look into the issue.

And residents are being asked to contribute their experiences online, to help the investigation at  http://bhccresidentcommunity.ning.com/BHscrutiny/partyhouses

It follows a request by chair of the Queen's Park Local Action Team, Cllr Geoffrey Bowden, who also chairs the council's Economic Development & Culture Committee.  

Fellow scrutiny councillors have nominated him to chair the panel.

Cllr Bowden said:  “The Queens Park Local Action Team identified this as a particular problem but I know it extends across the city.  Party houses are short-term holiday lets typically catering for stag and hen parties. 

"East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service estimate that there are some 300 party houses in the city. While it is appreciated that these operations may have an economic benefit for the city, they also give rise to a considerable number of noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour complaints – particularly in residential areas.

“I hope this scrutiny will be able to put forward recommendations that can tackle the negative impacts, while promoting a gold standard that could be adopted by responsible operators.

“The panel will wish to hear from as wide a range of individuals and organisations as possible, including residents affected by party houses, operators, planning officers, licensing, environmental health, the blue light services and hoteliers.   Some of these have expressed concerns that there is not a level playing field in terms of regulation.”

Councillors Alan Robins and Jayne Bennett will also be on the panel

Web adverts for party houses in the city show some homes sleeping up to 27 people.  Properties are let specifically for hen and stag weekends, charging as little as £15 per person per night.  But with add-ons, the weekend bill could rise to as much as £5,000.  

Cllr Bowden added:  “People having a decadent weekend is one thing, but if you live next door and have to get up for work in the morning you might take a more hardline approach. I hope that this scrutiny will also finally determine whether these are holiday lets or businesses, which need to be treated as such.”