Plans for HMO in Hartlepool's Elwick Road rejected after councillors go against advice

Proposals for an eight-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Hartlepool have been thrown out by councillors.

Thursday, 26th August 2021, 6:03 pm

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Planning Committee voted against the advice of planning officers and refused a HMO conversion at 96 Elwick Road.

HMOs refer to properties such as shared houses, flats or hostels where several households live together sharing communal facilities.

Plans submitted to the local authority said the vacant three-storey house would be brought back into use to help “diversify the housing offer” in the area.

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Plans for an HMO were turned down.

During consultation however, the application sparked opposition from the public and community leaders with almost 40 objections lodged, including two from ward councillors.

Concerns included the development potentially leading to an increase in noise and disturbance, traffic worries and antisocial behaviour.

The application was recommended for approval by council planning officers at a committee meeting at Hartlepool Civic Centre on Wednesday, August 25.

Documents prepared for the committee stated all eight proposed bedrooms would have their own accompanying bathroom, six of which would be en-suite, and two using bathrooms on the first floor.

Plans for an HMO were turned down.

Proposals also included a dropped kerb to provide two new car parking spaces to the front of the property.

Councillors were unconvinced on the benefits of the plan and raised concerns about highway safety, parking and increased fear of crime.

The committee debate on the application followed speeches from two objectors, including a local resident and Burn Valley ward councillor, Jonathan Brash.

Cllr Brash focused his concerns on highways issues such as parking, vehicular access, traffic generation and general highway safety, alongside the wider fear of antisocial behaviour.

He told the meeting: “The application displaces parking where there is no parking to be had, it creates a danger on one of the busiest roads in Hartlepool near shops and local schools.

“I would also add a second clear material planning consideration which is crime and antisocial behaviour and in your paperwork it makes very clear that the fear of crime and antisocial behaviour is a material planning consideration.

“There is absolutely no doubt speaking to residents in and around this area that this application has caused enormous fear, anxiety and worry.

“That is because there are HMOs right across the Burn Valley and in other parts of the town where I’m afraid to say, disorder, noise, crime and antisocial behaviour have become associated with those properties and [neighbours] are rightly fearful of them.”

Committee members agreed that the potential for eight vehicles created from the HMO use would worsen the traffic situation on an already busy road.

Councillor Moss Boddy, who led the calls to refuse the application, said: “It will cause a hazard and it will possibly and almost certainly cause minor bumps and accidents, which will result in distress and unhappiness.”

The councillor added that approving the application could lead to increased pollution and a “domino effect” of more applications being submitted for HMO conversions on the street.

Meanwhile, councillor Rob Cook said he was “very surprised” that the council’s planning department had recommended the application for approval.

Cllr Cook went on to say: “I know they have done it according to the rules and regulations but we have got to be conscious of what has been mentioned, the fear of crime, the pollution, the parking.

“It’s just not possible on a road like Elwick Road.”

Following discussion, the application was turned down by the planning committee.

Reasons for refusal included the plans resulting in an “adverse impact” on highway and pedestrian safety and the character and amenity of the area, increased emissions from car parking and increased fear of crime.

Another reason for refusal included the proposals setting an “undesirable precedent” for similar HMO uses “to the detriment of the amenities of the area.”

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