The council had taken enforcement action against use of the premises, a designated asset of community value, as a house in multiple occupation (HMO). Following closure of the venue in 2015 and subsequent eviction of squatters, the premises had been occupied as an HMO managed by an organisation providing live-in guardians, which had obtained an HMO licence for up to eight people.
Marketing and sale of the site had been delayed for various reasons, including an ongoing dispute with the council over its lawful use, but the inspector found that the appellants clearly intended to proceed with its disposal. Against this background, he set aside normal policy considerations on matters such as parking, maximising use of available space in permanent HMOs and loss of active town centre frontages. He granted a 12-month temporary permission as a more effective way of safeguarding the building pending its sale than the alternative of installing guards, guard dogs and CCTV equipment.
He rejected the council’s preference for upholding the enforcement notice subject to a compliance period of 12 months, pointing out that the notice did not require subsequent reinstatement of the building’s internal layout whereas this could be achieved through a condition attached to planning permission. On this basis, he allowed the ground (a) appeal and granted deemed permission.
Inspector: Chris Hoult; Written representations