Plans refused to turn house into student accommodation in South Shields following noise concerns

Plans for a new house in multiple occupation in South Shields have been snubbed by councillors.
Wallington Grove, South Shields. Picture: Google.Wallington Grove, South Shields. Picture: Google.
Wallington Grove, South Shields. Picture: Google.

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) refer to properties split into separate bedsits such as shared houses/flats or hostels.

In South Tyneside, the property types are under the spotlight with an ongoing council probe looking at the support available for vulnerable tenants.

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On Tuesday, August 27, the council’s Planning Committee discussed plans for a four-bedroom HMO in Wallington Grove.

Coun Anne Hetherington.Coun Anne Hetherington.
Coun Anne Hetherington.

Councillors were told the applicant, Jenner Property Tree Ltd, would aim the HMO at students attending the borough’s Marine School.

While the HMO would not normally require planning permission under ‘permitted development’ rights, it was called in by the council under a HMO policy.

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The ‘article four’ rule aims to control the numbers and concentration of HMOs in the area, given it comprises of mainly family homes.

Whiteleas ward councillor and vice chairman of the Planning Committee, Coun Doreen Purvis, also called the plans in for decision saying they were “totally out of character” with the area.

Under council rules, she declared an interest at the South Shields Town Hall meeting and sat out of the discussion.

Despite planning officers recommending the plans for approval, councillors voted to reject the application.

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Key issues included the suitability of the HMO in the area due to the number of family and single household dwellings and increased noise at unsocial hours.

Coun Anne Hetherington said the plans represented an “intensification in the use of the site”.

She added that a recent survey also identified there was no need for additional student accommodation in the borough.

She told the meeting: “One of my concerns is that the applicant is a property developer and in approving this application, would we be setting a precedent in what is a predominantly residential area.”

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Coun Geraldine Kilgour added there was a demand for two and three bedroom homes – with the plans “removing an affordable family home from the market”.

She told councillors that the HMO could also pass licensing tests around rooms – with enough space for two people to stay in each bedroom.

“Each of those four bedrooms has that space so they could easily accommodate eight people in that particular property despite this looking to be a small HMO,” she said.

Agreed reasons for rejection included increased noise and activity from the HMO and its impact on the residential area.

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Jenner Property Tree Ltd has the right to appeal the council decision.