80-bedroom HMO denied permission

Change of use of a building from shared student flats to a sui generis 80-bedroom house in multiple occupation on the edge of a Bedfordshire town centre was assessed by an inspector as failing to meet local housing needs.

The inspector found that the development would not accord with local policy aimed at meeting housing needs defined in a recent strategic housing land availability assessment, which indicated a low demand for single bedroom accommodation in the housing market area, and would not provide an appropriate housing mix to meet local needs including student accommodation.

On the issue of the effect on area character, she judged that an 80-bedroom HMO would represent an overconcentration of the same type of residential accommodation which would have a significant and adverse effect on the character of the area, giving little weight to a proposed management team to vet prospective residents and manage antisocial behaviour given that these laudable goals could not be made the subject of a planning condition.

Given the small size of the bedsits, an absence of indoor relaxation space other than shared kitchens, and inadequate outdoor amenity space,  the inspector found living conditions for future occupiers unsatisfactory and contrary to local policy seeking new housing of high-quality design and an healthy living environment. Concluding overall that the harms she had identified were not outweighed by the limited benefits of providing for additional low-cost HMO accommodation in the town, the inspector dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: Janet Wilson; Written representations

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