Agenda item - BH2019/02674 - 12 Standean Close, Brighton - Full Planning

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Agenda item

BH2019/02674 - 12 Standean Close, Brighton - Full Planning


              Change of use from three-bedroom residential dwelling (C3) to six-bedroom small house in multiple occupation (C4), incorporating conversion of garage into habitable space and associated alterations (Part Retrospective)


              Officer Presentation


(2)          The Principal Planning Officer, Matthew Gest, introduced the application by reference to plans, floor plans, elevational drawings and site plans detailing the scheme. The site related to a two-storey terrace property located on the north-east side of Standean Close. The property was not located in a conservation area and there was an Article Four Direction in place to limit the number of HMO’s. HMO Licensing records, Council Tax records and a site visit had identified the property was being in HMO use and therefore the application description had been amended to part-retrospective. No external or internal works had been undertaken to date.


(2)       It was noted that the main considerations in determining the application related to the principle of the change of use, impact on neighbouring amenity, the standard of accommodation which would be provided and transport issues. A mapping exercise had indicated that there are 34 neighbouring properties within a 50m radius of the application property; 2 other properties have been identified as being in use as a HMO. On that basis, with 2 other properties being identified as being in use as a HMO the percentage of HMOs within the designated area was 5.8%. The changes to the internal layout of the property, including the conversion of the garage to habitable space would result in 4no bedrooms and bathroom at first floor level, 2no communal areas, a bedroom and shower and wc at ground floor level and a bedroom at lower ground floor level. The bedrooms met the government minimum national space standards and were adequate in terms of size, circulation space and layout to cater for the furniture needed and with good levels of natural light and outlook. The communal areas, which were not labelled, could adequately accommodate a kitchen/dining area and separate living room and measuring approximately 24.9sqm combined would be sufficient for a 6 person property. The space would be functional with good levels of circulation space, light and outlook and would provide an acceptable standard of accommodation. Notwithstanding this, a condition was recommended restricting the use of the communal areas for communal use. The accommodation proposed was considered acceptable, and to be in accordance with policy QD27 of the Brighton and Hove Local Plan and approval was therefore recommended.


              Questions of Officers


(3)          Councillor Theobald sought clarification of the number of HMO’s in the area as it appeared to be higher than suggested by the mapping exercise.


(4)          Councillor Fishleigh sought clarification on the same matter asking whether there had been a change in Council policy. It was explained that the type of accommodation which could be classified as an HMO was prescribed by Housing Act Legislation.


(5)          Councillor Yates sought clarification of the wording of Policy CP21, in that reference was made to other sui-generis use classes. There were other such uses in the immediate vicinity of this site, these were not included, if they had been, the figure would have been higher than 10%. Councillor Yates considered that this was relevant. It was explained that was not the case and that all of the properties which were eligible for inclusion in the mapping exercise had been.


(6)          Councillor Theobald also sought confirmation in respect of the proposed conversion of the garage in order to provide accommodation, asking whether/where the displaced parking would be re-provided.


(7)          Councillor Hill, the Chair, referred to properties located at 12A and 15 Standean Close, 41 Hawkhurst Road and 68 Wolseley Road respectively which were in use as shared homes. It was explained that as two of these properties were head leased by the University of Sussex, they fell within use class C3 rather than a C4 HMO and therefore it had not been possible to include them in the mapping exercise. This was regrettable and the Chair wished to know whether/what constraints could be used to seek to prevent noise nuisance and other detriment to neighbouring residents. It was clarified that all four of these properties plus the application address if approved could house up to six occupants each without any further planning permissions being necessary, resulting in up to 30 students living within a 50m radius.


              Debate and Decision Making Process


(8)          Councillor Yates cited other instances e.g., 25 Wheatfield Way where planning permission had been refused on the grounds that the increased noise and activity as a result of an intensification of an existing use would have a negative impact. The Planning Manager, Paul Vidler, stated that Members needed to weigh the grounds for any refusal very carefully. The number of HMO’s in the area which could be included was below 10% and QD27 was intended to protect immediate neighbouring amenity rather than to be applied more broadly to an area as a whole.


(9)          Councillor Bagaeen referred to the number of properties used by the university in the area and whether that would be impacted by the number of additional units they were providing on campus. It was confirmed that information was not available and that anyone seeking to apply for HMO use now or in the future would need to apply for permission.


(10)       Councillor Littman stated that whilst the existence of what appeared to be a technical loophole was unfortunate he could not see that there were sufficiently sound grounds to refuse this application.


(11)       Councillor Janio concurred on that view staying that whilst the demand for student housing appeared to be waning there still appeared to be a demand for HMO’s and this scheme was policy compliant.


(12)       Councillor Theobald stated that she was struggling to see that the level of additional accommodation to be provided was necessary, considering that it would be detrimental to neighbouring amenity. Councillor Bagaeen concurred in that view.


(13)       Councillor Shanks stated that the proposed scheme would result in additional activity in a small close which represented over development and would have a negative impact on neighbours. As such it should be rejected. Councillor Childs was in agreement with that view.


(14)       A vote was taken on the officer recommendation to grant the application and this was lost on a vote of 5 to 4 with 1 abstention. Councillor Shanks then proposed that the application be refused on the grounds of the need to protect amenity in the light of similar uses in the area and the potential for noise nuisance. Councillor Shanks expressed concern regarding the potential impact on neighbours as this was a small close and the impact would therefore be greater. The application was considered to be contrary to policy QD27 of the Brighton & Hove City Plan. The proposal was seconded by Councillor Childs and it was agreed that that the final wording of the proposed reasons for refusal be agreed by the Planning Manager in consultation with Councillors Shanks and Childs.


(15)       A recorded vote was then taken and Councillors Childs, Fishleigh, Bagaeen, Shanks and Theobald voted that the application be refused. Councillors Hill, the Chair, Littman, Janio and Mac Cafferty voted that the application be granted. Councillor Yates abstained. Therefore planning permission was refused on a vote of 5 to 4 with 1 abstention.


65.5       RESOLVED – That the Committee has taken into account the report recommendations but resolves to REFUSE planning permission on the grounds proposed by Councillor Shanks. The final wording to be used in the decision letter to be agreed by the Planning Manager in consultation with the proposer and seconder.

Supporting documents:


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