15 June 2016

Government tells another Brighton landlord to shut student house

Another Brighton landlord has been told by government planning inspectors to stop letting a family home to students.

It is the second such case in as many months.

Last December, Laura Dwyer-Smith was refused retrospective council planning permission to continue using 22 St Mary Magdalene Street as a four-bed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).  It had been let to students since September 1, according to her planning application.

The authority said the tenancy breached local powers applying in five council wards designed to stop over-concentration of student homes in any given location.  Rules specify that new houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) will not be allowed where it would take the proportion of HMOs within 50 metres to over 10 per cent.

St Mary Magdalene Street, off Brighton's Lewes Road

The landlord appealed against refusal, leaving a final decision to the Planning Inspectorate’s Andrew Steen.  In his judgement Mr Steen said the change of use would mean at least 10 per cent of homes within 50 metres would be HMOs.  This, he added, would breach council planning policies designed to prevent noise and disturbance and promote a healthy mixed community.

It means the house cannot now be used as an HMO after September 7.

Last month another planning inspector backed a council enforcement action over a student house at 21 Upper Wellington Road, Brighton.  It must cease as an HMO by August 20.

Planning committee chair Councillor Julie Cattell said:  “It’s encouraging to have the Inspectorate’s support for the second time in two months.  The universities make a major contribution to our economy and culture.  But those benefits are easily undermined for residents if we allow over-concentrations of students to change the character of individual streets.”

In April 2013 the council assumed special powers meaning landlords need planning permission to convert homes to HMOs in five council wards.  These are Hanover and Elm Grove; Hollingdean and Stanmer; Moulsecoomb and Bevendean; Queens Park, and St Peter’s and North Laine.

A small HMO is defined as a property let to between three and six unrelated people sharing facilities.  Such premises also need a licence from the environmental health department in 12 council wards. More information is on the council's website: HMOs and planning, plus HMOs and licensing.