Agenda item

9 Willowfield Road. Application ID: 151334.


Proposed change of use from a single dwelling into a 7 roomed HMO – DEVONSHIRE.  Two objections had been received.


The relevant planning history for the site was detailed within the report.  The observations of the Specialist Advisor for Waste were also summarised. 


The observations of the East Sussex County Council Highways department had been received and were summarised as follows:


  • The proposed change of use from a single dwelling (currently licenced as a 6 room HMO) to a 7 room HMO did not represent a significant increase in potential traffic generation or parking demand.
  • The site was close to town, was well connected to local amenities and transport links.
  • Due to property layout, off-street parking could not be provided.
  • The level of car ownership associated with the site was highly likely to be lower than for privately owned accommodation.
  • It was not considered that a recommendation for refusal could be justified as there would be no severe impact, therefore the proposal was in accordance with NPPF.
  • The applicant may wish to include cycle storage to promote alternative transport.


The Specialist Advisor for HMO Licencing stated that:


  • The property was well managed
  • The council had not received any complaints with regards to the property.


A further objection had been received and was summarised as follows:


  • There were many HMOs in the area, with accommodation let to non-students and students.
  • There had been numerous problems associated with HMOs were evident in the area, e.g. noise, anti-social behaviour, poorly managed refuse issues, car parking issues and “studentification”.
  • There had been two past instances of residences in Willowfield Road being used for the supply of drugs, both requiring police intervention.
  • A survey of local owner residents would confirm the above issues and that the area could not cope with further HMO properties.


A statement had been received from the applicant in support of the application responding to the issues raised by objectors and was summarised as follows:


  • The landlord had the managed property since 2010 and took great pride in providing tenants with decent and affordable accommodation, which enhanced the local area and community. Prior to this the property had been badly managed and neglected. It had been on the market for many months, there was no interest from family purchasers.
  • Considerable investment in renovation had been made in the property which required significant maintenance. As well as on-going maintenance and repair works the landlord wished to make further improvements to ensure they could keep the dwelling up to current day standards.
  • The landlord actively managed the property, working with tenants to ensure they were comfortable and satisfied with their accommodation whilst ensuring they recognised their role and impact within the immediate neighbourhood.
  • Over the last 6 years the landlord had assisted dozens of people to establish themselves in the local labour and housing markets. Typically tenants stayed between 1-3 years and moved on to self-contained living, renting or purchase their own homes.
  • The landlord had never knowingly had any behavioural problems amongst tenants.
  • The landlord regularly talked to immediate neighbours to ensure there were no issues, making sure the property was kept clean and tidy, bins properly managed, etc.
  • The minority of ‘landlords’ did not take the same proactive approach and create a bad name for decent landlords.


For clarification the accommodation schedule for the approximate floor space available for each room (including the proposed room) at 9 Willowfield Road was as follows:


-        Bedroom 1, 9.6m2

-        Bedroom 2, 13.4m2

-        Bedroom 3, 11.5m2

-        Bedroom 4, 10.2m2 + 1m2 built-in cupboard space

-        Bedroom 5, 13.7m2

-        Bedroom 6, 8.8m2

-        Bedroom 7 (proposed room), 11.3m2


RESOLVED: (By 7 votes with 1 abstention) That permission be refused on the grounds that the proposal by reason of the creation of the 7th bedroom within the property would result in an over-concentration of independent living rooms and a consequent reduction in communal space. It is considered that this arrangement would provide (in planning terms) a poor quality living environment.



Should the applicant appeal the decision the appropriate course of action to be followed, taking into account the criteria set by the Planning Inspectorate, is considered to be written representations.



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