Controversial plans for a new HMO in South Shields town centre stalled as decision delayed again

Controversial plans for a new house in multiple occupation (HMO) in South Shields have been stalled for a second time by councillors.

Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 10:40 am

Last month, South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee deferred plans for flats in Fowler Street.

This included an eight-bedroom HMO in former office space in the upper floors of 86A and 86B.

As an 11-bedroom HMO had already been approved for the adjacent building, councillors raised fears about a 19-bed HMO being created.

Fowler Street, South Shields

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Both HMO plans were lodged by the same applicant, listed in planning documents as Mohammed Al-Saraf.

At a planning meeting this week the eight-bedroom plan was put on hold for a second time pending the result of an council commission into HMOs.

“I fail to see how we can advance more [HMOs] when we’re still discussing the ones we have,”Coun Wilf Flynn told the meeting at South Shields Town Hall.

“Officers will tell us [the commission] has nothing to do with this planning application so we produce more and the commission is still there.

“It seems crazy that we agree anymore.”

The HMO investigation was launched by the Place Select Committee to explore the support available for vulnerable tenants.

Early findings have included potential links with crime, absent landlords and quality issues in the private rented sector.

Other discussion points have covered the way planning and licensing laws impact on decisions around HMOs.

On the Fowler Street plans, Coun Geraldine Kilgour raised concerns about the HMO having the capacity to offer “double rooms.”

Coun Anne Hetherington, said more data was needed to assess whether there was an “overdevelopment” of HMOs in the area.

While Coun Gladys Hobson added she still had fire safety concerns.

“I wouldn’t like to have it on my conscience, following the Grenfell disaster, that somebody on that top floor could not escape from that building,” she said.

The application will return to a future meeting for decision.