Property to be turned into ten bedsits
A LARGE house in the heart of Downend will be turned into ten bedsits, despite objections from neighbours and the parish council.
Owner Dr Housam Ghazzawi applied to turn the ten-bedroom house at the Orchard, off North Street, into a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
The plans were referred to South Gloucestershire Council's development management committee by Councillor Ian Boulton, whose Staple Hill & Mangotsfield ward includes the site opposite Downend Cricket Club, amid concerns about "overdevelopment and the density of dwellings".
But council officers recommended the scheme be approved and the committee voted it through with minimal debate when it met in March.
Planning agent Lloyd Jones of LRJ Planning said the large two-storey house already had ten bedrooms, a private drive and an "extensive" parking area in a "backland setting off North Street".
Under the scheme it will be converted into a "high quality 10 bedroom HMO", with residents sharing a common kitchen, kitchen-diner, living room, dining room, toilet and two shower rooms on the ground floor and one bathroom on the first floor.
Four of the bedrooms will be on the ground floor and the other six, two with en-suites, on the first.
The agents said the plan was "acceptable in planning terms and in accordance with the relevant policy and guidance" and the site was "capable of the conversion".
A total of 17 nearby residents opposed the plans, on grounds from obstruction of a shared access lane and parking issues to increased noise and transient residents.
One neighbour wrote: "This is a quiet residential area, with young families and retired people – the unavoidable increase in noise that a multiple occupancy development would bring would have a hugely negative impact on the neighbours of this property."
The neighbour said parking plans for the site were "unrealistic", and parking on North Street was already "maxed out", with residents using nearby Coronation Road already.
Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council also raised objections on the grounds of overdevelopment, the scheme not being in keeping with the area and a lack of detailed information provided by the applicant.
Last September another 10-bed HMO, in a three-storey building on the opposite side of the cricket ground on Dial Lane, was approved despite more than a dozen objections.
After the latest decision, Cllr Boulton and colleagues Michael Bell and Katie Cooper said: "We understand that HMOs can provide much-needed accommodation options in a difficult housing market.
"However the current legislation, which is seemingly in favour of developing more HMOs, does not appear to recognise the strain HMOs can put on neighbourhoods where a higher density population has a greater demand on local services.
"It is concerning that the approval of this application disregards local objections, including from the local parish council.
"It is clear from this example that town and parish councils have no more influence than any other group or individual when it comes to objecting to planning applications."