Councillors have approved plans for a seven-bed house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Netherfield just months after major concerns were raised about their impact on the town.
The plans, in Chandos Street, will see an existing two-story semi-detached property converted into the seven-bedroom home, with five of the rooms to include en-suite bathrooms.
An extension to the rear roof of the building will house two of the bedrooms, while a communal area on the ground floor would include a living room and a kitchen.
However, the approval, made by council planners on Wednesday (September 7), comes less than three months after Gedling Borough Council’s cabinet commissioned further research into issues posed by HMOs in Netherfield.
HMOs are family homes that have been converted to provide space for more bedrooms, often including several people who are not related to each other.
Concerns have been raised by residents and politicians about a perceived high density of HMOs in the town, with a 111-response survey led by the Conservative Party finding concerns about parking, drainage and crime.
However, an investigation at the Labour-led authority, which concluded in June, then found there was “insufficient evidence” to suggest an Article 4 direction – aimed at reducing the number of HMOs in the town – was needed.
This move would give the authority more power to restrict existing properties from being converted into HMOs, including calling in more planning applications to be reviewed by councillors.
But council officers investigating the issue concluded there was no proof it was necessary – believing implementing one now could lead to costly appeals by the Government or developers.
The town is covered by a selective licensing scheme aimed at monitoring private rented properties, which has been in place for a number of years.
And council officers said they are using this scheme to assess how many HMOs are licensed in Netherfield to gain a better picture of the issue.
These assessments will then be used to form a report to decide whether there is scope for an Article 4 direction in the future, and another report was said to come forward in six months.
A total of 24 letters of objection were raised to the Chandos Street plan, alongside a 60-name petition calling for the development to be rejected.
These included similar concerns about an over-density of HMOs, highways safety, a lack of parking, noise pollution, a loss of ‘community feel’ and family housing, increased crime and a risk of anti-social behaviour.
In total, almost 50 individual concerns were raised by residents.
However, the council’s planning department recommended the plans for approval as the conversion – put forward by Wilson Architects Ltd – was consistent with planning policies.
Planners said the HMO would result in “no undue impact” on the town, while no highways safety or parking issues were raised by consultees like Nottinghamshire County Council.
This would mean that, if the plans were refused, the developer would be able to appeal to Government inspectors.
In the meeting on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the company told councillors this would likely be the case.
And Councillor David Ellis (Lab), who represents Ernehale, said: “I recognise residents’ concerns set out in the objections, but many of the issues are non-material planning issues – they’re not things we can take into account.
“An Article 4 would not be a silver bullet to this issue, local authorities are hamstrung when it comes to issues like this.
“It’s very much a balanced decision, I’m going to disregard the threats [of appeal] by the speaker and will be supporting the decision, but the HMO will need to be licenced.”
The plans will now go ahead, while further assessments into the impact of HMOs in Netherfield is expected by December.