Controversial plans for an eight-bedroomed house of multiple occupation in Hartlepool have been rejected by councillors.
Hartlepool Borough Council planning committee unanimously turned down the proposals to convert a property in Park Road into an eight bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO).
HMOs refer to properties such as a house split into separate bedsits, a shared house/flat or a hostel.
Planning documents by ASP Associates on behalf of applicant Saeed Khalid said proposals would ‘enhance the area’ and could create ‘up to 40 jobs in refurbishing the site’.
Ahead of the planning committee meeting, 17 objections had been received by the council to the plans, raising worries such as car parking and congestion problems, nuisance issues, and a potential increase in crime.
Two residents, along with the three ward councillors for the area, also spoke out at the meeting against the plans.
Resident Sylvia Beard said: “Park Road is mainly a Conservation Area and to pass this application will in my mind set precedent for future applications and before long it’s a slippery slope to many houses having bedsit applications.
“It changes the character of the street, and in regards to the parking in this street, the side streets in the evenings and weekends are more or less gridlocked. “
Burn Valley ward Councillors Ged Hall, Dave Hunter and John Lauderdale all endorsed concerns raised by residents and objected to the plans.
Coun Hunter said: “There is no evidence to suggest anywhere that a HMO or similar will enhance the area, but there is massive evidence to suggest that it brings down prices of property and causes issues for residents.
“In terms of it creating 40 jobs, that is very unlikely, the owner is very vague on what type of residents will use the property, and that is a concern for me.
“Around that property already, speaking with neighbours, we do see huge amounts of criminal activity, drug taking, theft, ASB, noise, and this proposal will just increase that by 33%.”
Coun Lauderdale said: “Park Road, I would describe, as one of the most prestigious link roads in the town, East to West.
“The moment these detrimental behaviours creep in and become visible we are going to be a laughing stock having made the decision which allowed it to happen.”
The applicant had stated the property would be supervised by a member of staff and the intended occupants were unknown.
The site is currently listed as a smaller house in multiple occupation for up to six people and was formerly a three storey residential house.
A report from council planning officers had recommended the plans were given the go-ahead, but councillors on the planning committee voted to reject the plans following the concerns raised.
Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher said: “I am disappointed the parking issue hasn’t been picked up within the consultation seeing it as a major problem.
“Historically there is a history of parking problems in that area.”
Coun Marjorie James said: “HMOs are a major problem in the fact they are not required to have the sound proofing, if this was an eight bed hotel, it would have to have sound proofing, but there is no protection for residents of sound travelling through walls.
“There is absolutely an increase in crime and criminality.”
A design and access statement on behalf of the applicant had previously stated the plans would benefit the area.
It said: “This property has fallen slightly in a state of disrepair, but our proposals would be a new lease of life for the property providing a worthwhile facility and protect the valuable amenities of the area.
“It is our opinion that the development will provide a good quality HMO residential accommodation.”
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service