Appeals success for council action on HMOs

Brighton & Hove City Council has successfully defended its decision to refuse planning permission on four properties converted to HMOs (houses in multiple occupation).

Property owners in Brighton appealed the council’s decision to refuse planning permission for plans to house multiple people in smaller properties.

All four properties have already been altered to provide HMOs and all needed planning permission.

Councillor Julie Cattell, chair of the planning committee, said: “We are pleased the planning inspector agreed with our decisions. These HMOs did not create decent living space for their occupants.

“We would urge property owners to check whether planning permission is needed before going ahead with work as if permission is refused it could cost them thousands of pounds, both in legal costs and in putting properties back to how they were. The council also takes enforcement action when properties are not returned to their agreed use.”

An application to convert a first floor flat to a small HMO of five rooms and a kitchen at 33 Baker Street was refused but the works had already been done. In considering the appeal the planning inspector noted that the kitchen could only comfortably hold two people at any one time while the ‘communal space’ for residents was a hallway with only room for a small sofa against one section of wall.

It was found that the communal area was being used to dry clothes and store items as there was not enough space in the rooms themselves.

The outdoor terrace at the property could only be used for part of the year and there was concern about increased noise and disturbance for neighbours.

In upholding the council’s decision, the planning inspector noted that the accommodation was of a poor standard and would be harmful to the living conditions of existing and future residents.

The Inspector came to a similar conclusion at 33 Hallett Road, a semi-detached house in the Hanover & Elm Grove area. This has already been turned into a six-bedroomed HMO to house students. The planning inspector agreed with the council that it does not provide satisfactory living conditions for those who will live there.

Two properties, 33 Hillside and 2 Plymouth Avenue, in the Moulescoomb and Bevendean area of the city, have permission to be smaller HMOs but have been turned into large (seven bedrooms or more) HMOs without planning permission.

The planning inspector upheld the council’s view that permission should be refused on these properties due to the inadequate internal space to provide acceptable living conditions. Both properties have recently had works to increase their size. One is an end of terrace house (Hillside), the other a bungalow.

Outstanding appeals against planning refusal for HMOs are currently being considered for 72 Brading Road, 40 Pankhurst Avenue and 29 Southampton Street.

Reports on recent and current appeals will be noted by councillors at the 4th April Planning Committee.