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Appeal lodged after councillors turn down plan for HMO in Rhosddu

A planning appeal has been submitted after plans to convert a property in Rhosddu into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) were refused by councillors.

The appeal, which has been submitted on behalf of applicants AJAK developments ltd, comes after planning committee members unanimously voted to reject plans for the property in Park Street, Rhosddu.

It had been proposed that the property was converted into a five-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) for a maximum of eight residents.

However despite being recommended for approval by the head of environment and planning at Wrexham Council, committee members refused the plans amid concerns of lack of parking and amenity space.

Speaking at the time Grosvenor councillor Marc Jones, said: ““Anyone who knows Park Street will know that ironically given its name, it is one of the worst places in Wrexham to park. It is a one way street, it’s probably the narrowest street in Wrexham and people have to drive on the pavement to get past.

“If you don’t know the place you would not believe how narrow that road is. It is impossible to get past in a van if there is a van parked there. The curb stones are cracked, it’s not safe.

“A household of two adults and a number of children who may be of driving age would have far fewer cars or vehicles than with eight adults in. If those eight adults are in work it is more than likely they will need cars of vehicles to get to their place of work.

“Regardless of what anyone says, public transport in Wrexham is inadequate.”

However the appeal submitted by Mr Bob Dewey on behalf of the applicants states that the committee’s decision “does not accord with the professional recommendation made by the council’s planning officers”.

Commenting on the concerns about parking in the area, Mr Dewey says: “It is self-evident that the existing houses have inadequate parking – the road is barely wide enough for parking along one side and it is presumed that some residents use the small public car park located on the Park Street/Rhosddu Road corner.

“Given the severe lack of parking for some 27 house along the most restricted part of the road, it is not unreasonable to think that some residents may not own cars. Certainly, any occupier of this proposed accommodation would be ill advised to take up residence if she/he owns a car.”

With regards to amenity space for the HMO it is noted: “This is a densely developed urban area where the full provision is unlikely to be feasible.

“There are large public open spaces some 400 m away on either side of Rhosddu Road with plenty of sitting out areas. There are allotments adjacent to Chester Road.”

The agent concludes: “This is a proposal to bring a property into a viable use and provide much needed accommodation for people who want to live close to Wrexham Town centre. The site is therefore extremely sustainable with the centre easily walkable.

“The bus station is on this side of the centre and there are footpath links to the railway station. There are areas of green open space on both sides of Rhosddu Road close to the site.

“No objective evidence has been put forward as to why the use would cause any harm to the amenities of the area. It fully supports WG’s objective of reducing the need for private car usage.

“The inspector is requested to grant permission.”

The appeal will be considered by the planning inspector at a later date.

Source: Wrexham

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Fife Council seeks views on future of HMOs

Fife Council is seeking views on the future accommodation needs of university students and St Andrews’ residents in the town.

The issue of HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) has caused much debate in St Andrews over the years, particularly how best to ease pressure on the over-crowded housing market and meet demand from all sections of the community.

Now the local authority is asking for views on a change to its housing policy which would limit the number of new HMO licenses granted in the town.

Convenor of the council’s community and housing services committee, Cllr Judy Hamilton, said: “We’ve previously looked at different ways to reduce pressure on accommodation, particularly in the centre of St Andrews. This included a moratorium on new HMOs in the central conservation area of St Andrews through planning legislation but unfortunately this hasn’t solved the problem.

“There are around 1,000 HMOs in Fife and nearly 860 of these are located in St Andrews. Across Fife the number of HMOs has grown by 8% in the last 10 years and 27% of all St Andrews residents currently live in HMOs.

“We’re now surveying the community with a view to changing our housing policy. Residents are being asked their opinion on options within the range of 0% (no further growth) to a maximum of 3% (limited further growth). The council’s preferred option is for no further growth based on information available at this point.”

Representatives from the Students’ Association and Residents’ Association in St Andrews were invited to speak at the last community and housing services committee meeting to inform the debate on the issue. Councillors then agreed in principle to introduce a strategic overprovision policy for Fife and to survey St Andrews residents on the detail.

Questionnaires will be distributed to St Andrews’ households from the end of January and a separate survey will be issued to local organisations and students.
The issue will be debated again at committee on April 11.

Cllr Hamilton added: “This is a major issue for the town and we will continue to work with the University to find long-term solutions that will meet the future needs of both students and residents.”

Source: Scottish Housing News

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HMO licence granted despite complaints of students throwing faeces out window

Councillors have renewed a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence despite a neighbour complaining about students throwing human faeces out of a window.

The city council’s licensing sub-committee agreed to grant Arden Property Management a renewed licence for a property in Thirlestane Road, but only for an extra six months, after neighbour Charles Stokes spoke out – claiming the company were “not a fit and proper organisation to hold a licence”.

Mr Stokes, who lives below the flat in question, claimed Arden were “falling short of their statutory obligations”.

The neighbour told councillors there were instances of tenants smoking, a failure to display licensing notices properly and students throwing “human waste, faeces, out of the window” – as well as noise complaints.

He added: “We feel ignored, we feel patronised and we feel our objections are not taken seriously.

Their selection and management of tenants is poor and this has led to incidents of anti-social behaviour as recently as October 2018.

“Arden staff do not treat neighbours with respect. If Arden chose good tenants it’s fine, if they don’t it is ghastly.”

Mr Stokes also hit out at the company’s “chaotic financial systems” after claiming neighbours were still waiting for payments for shared repairs from August last year.

The current tenants have lived at the property since June 2017 and police were called on 13 September 2017 and 19 March 2018 to reports of antisocial behaviour.

Cllr Scott Arthur quizzed the company as to why the students were allowed to remain in the property. He said: “I see this as quite a serious situation. Given that the police attended the property twice, you still decided to renew that tenure.”

Michael McDougall of TLT Solicitors, representing Arden, said the allegations of human excrement being thrown from a window were not reported to the company at the time.

He added: “There have been two or three complaints about noise. We found the incidents did not require tenancies to be terminated. Arden are working hard to deal with concerns expressed by objectors. Any complaints made are always taken seriously and investigated.”

Councillors were torn over whether to believe the neighbour or the company’s side of the story. Regulatory convener, Cllr Catherine Fullerton, called for the application to be granted for one year.

She said: “There’s only been one recorded incident to the police last year. People cannot make no noise at all but they should not be making noise that causes other residents problems. “Having heard what the agent has said, I’m confident the agent is taking this seriously and putting in place steps to mitigate this in the future.”

But Cllr Neil Ross urged the application to be turned down as there were “a number of doubts cast” over the suitability of the company to manage the property. Cllr Cameron Rose proposed that the application was approved for just six months, which the committee backed.

He said: “I do not accept everything Mr Stokes has said. We have a number of areas where there are direct contradictions on the emergency number and the repairs. We have heard that the applicant is willing to look at getting a new agent. I think there’s enough doubt here to grant this application but for a very restrictive period.”

Source: Edinburgh News

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Plans to convert property on edge of town centre into HMO approved

An application to convert a property on the edge of the town centre into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) for seven people has been granted.

The plans for the property in the Derby Road area of Wrexham were put to planning committee members on Monday.

Whitegate councillor Brian Cameron urged members to either refuse the application or carry out a site visit due to see the existing safety and parking issues on the road.

Cllr Cameron said: “Derby Road is a very busy road and there are HGV wagons that go to and from units. Two to three years ago due to the weight of some of the vehicles the road gave way and work had to be done.

“My concern is 24 Derby Road isn’t far from the junction of Kingsmills Road and parking is already very difficult in that area.

“The report talks about parking on the site – my view of parking on the site is if they don’t reverse on, how are they going to get back onto the highway? There is no room to manoeuvre.

“It’s safety in my opinion. It is very close to a junction and there is a lot of parking on the opposite side of the road. There is very little room for parking and it is a very busy junction. It is one of the busiest roads you can have.

“The last thing I would want to see is an accident on that road.”

Cllr Adrienne Jeorrett, who represents the neighbouring Smithfield ward, said she could not support the application due to the existing traffic on the road and the speed heading towards the Kingsmills junction.

However chairman of the committee, Cllr Michael Morris, said the chances of a refusal from the committee being overturned at appeal stage are “great” as the plans meet the council’s standards.

Planning officer Matthew Phillips said that the application had been recommended for approval and that four parking spaces would be provided on the site.

It was also suggested by the council’s highways department that a condition to remove a section of the boundary wall to make manoeuvring in and out of the site easier was put in place.

A recommendation that the committee visited the site was rejected, with seven councillors to six voting in favour of the application subject to the above condition being put in place.

Source: Wrexham

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Appeal over Wrexham HMO plans is kicked out

An appeal against the rejection of plans to extend a house in multiple occupation (HMO) has been thrown out.

Wrexham Council denied permission to increase the number of bedrooms at a property on Poplar Road in the town from six to eight in October.

Owner Arran Pritchard later launched an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate on the grounds that the authority did not decide on his application within the relevant timescale.

However, an inspector appointed by the Welsh Government has upheld the council’s decision.

Siân Worden said she felt it would impact on the safety of drivers at a busy junction.

She said: “The appeal property is in a busy area where there are widespread parking restrictions and many of the dwellings do not have off-street parking. There thus appears to be a high demand for on-street spaces.

“The proposed development would result in a small increase in the number of vehicles requiring parking spaces in the vicinity.

“Even so, it would increase the hazard on the local road network, and reduce its efficient use, by resulting in more drivers searching for a parking space.

“The proposed development would not make sufficient provision for parking or for a turning area.

“It would thus be detrimental to safety and the efficient use of the highway in the immediate area.”

The proposed development would need spaces for five car parking spaces.

However, Ms Worden said she it was unclear how many spaces were allocated to the property.

She said: “There are no parking spaces marked out and it is not clear how many cars can reasonably be parked there at the moment, taking into account that vehicles should be able to enter or leave each parking space even if other parking spaces are occupied.

“It is possible that three or even four parked cars would fit within the space without blocking each other in.

“They could not, however, turn and leave the parking area in a forward gear.

“Those parking at the existing HMO are likely to have to reverse out at the moment.

“Nonetheless, if the proposal necessitated additional such manoeuvres these would be harmful to the safety of pedestrians and other road users.”

Source: Wrexham

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Proposals for town centre HMO backed for approval despite parking concerns

Proposals to convert a property on the edge of Wrexham town centre into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) have been backed for approval.

The recommendation has been made by officers at Wrexham Council despite concerns that the plans for the house on Derby Road will lead to an increase in traffic.

Community councillors have also said it could cause parking difficulties on a busy route in the town, which is close to Eagles Meadow shopping centre.

However, the authority’s head of environment and planning has advised politicians that the change of use should be given the green light.

In a report, Lawrence Isted said: “Local planning guidance advises that the maximum parking required for the proposed use is four spaces which is one more space than the maximum requirements for the existing use.

“The applicant has amended the original scheme to provide four on-site parking spaces side by side with a limited turning area.
“The site is extremely sustainable being located some 1km from the town centre within which there is access to local shopping provision, various bus services and the railway station.

“There are no reasons to resist this proposal on the grounds of highway safety.”

One neighbouring resident raised concerns about the type of tenant that would be housed in the property.

In response, Mr Isted said the occupation of a HMO is not restricted to any particular type of person.
He said: “There are no planning or housing regulatory reasons why a HMO proposal should be refused on the grounds of any particular type of person occupying the property.

“The transiency of occupiers would not result in any detriment to the social fabric of the area.”

The proposals will be considered by Wrexham Council’s planning committee on Monday 7 January.

Source: Wrexham