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Proposals to change a bungalow into a house of multiple occupation (HMO) in Falmouth that fell foul of new legislation have been allowed on appeal.

Dylan Stephens already houses five people at the house in Dracaena Avenue, but had to apply for planning permission to increase the number to nine.

He said he was only applying “under protest” as he has operated it as an HMO for 14 years, but Cornwall Council turned it down.

Although any HMO for more than five people has always had to seek planning consent, Article 4 legislation, which came into force in June, means schemes can be refused if it is felt the area is at saturation point.

Despite being recommended for approval by planning officer Laura Potts, Cornwall Council’s planning committee used the policy to refuse it saying the area “was identified as containing a large number of HMOs”.

But Mr Stephens appealed both the change of use and a second application to add a loft extension. The first was upheld, but the planning inspector refused the extension because of the impact on neighbours.

Mr Stephens said in his application: “The deeds for the property state it can be used as a residential house or high-quality boarding house. Falmouth has an enormous demand for shared accommodation without the need to take up any more of the much-needed family housing.

“It has housed many local working people who have been unable to afford to live in a self-contained unit.”

The application received objections from residents, who raised concerns about the provision of just four parking spaces and suggesting it would increase noise problems already experienced from the premises.

One objector said: “It has already been enlarged to six bedrooms, that’s a 200% increase. To enlarge it even further to nine bedrooms would be 350%. That is massive over-development and overcrowding of a small site.”

Falmouth Town Council also objected to the application, saying it was over-development and unneighbourly and went against the emerging neighbourhood plan and Article 4 directive.

Planning inspector Chris Cheswell said, however, that as it was already being used as an HMO there was no change and therefore the Article 4 direction did not apply.

He said: “I am aware of the neighbouring occupier’s concerns regarding potential noise and disturbance. Although I do sympathise with these concerns, the property is already in use as HMO and it is not clear that an increase of three additional persons would materially change the existing situation.

“While I am aware of some previous complaints, there is relatively little before me to demonstrate that noise is an ongoing problem. Indeed, I note that the council’s environmental protection officer has no objection to the proposal.”

The property has a two-storey extension at the back and a single-storey extension is currently under construction having previously gained permission, but the inspector dismissed the second appeal for a loft extension because he said it would be overbearing and affect the living conditions of neighbours.

“Although I recognise that the proposal would provide a modest amount of additional accommodation within the town, this is not sufficient to balance in favour of the development.”

Source: Cornwall Live

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