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Plans to convert a terrace property in Rhosddu into a HMO have been allowed on appeal – despite being rejected unanimously by planning committee members.

The application for 33 Park Street proposed that the four bedroom property was turned into five-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) for eight residents.

The plans had been recommended for approval by the head of environment and planning Lawrence Isted, who said he was satisfied that the development “would not result in an over concentration of HMOs in the immediate locality.”

But the plans were were turned down by councillors in January 2019 amid concerns over a lack of parking and amenity space for residents.

Objections had also been raised by several neighbours who fear that tenants would be ‘crammed in’ and may include substance abusers. The council’s highways department said it was also against the scheme because it did not include enough parking spaces.

However planning inspector Clive Nield has now overturned the council’s decision and approved the application on appeal.

In his report Mr Nield says that although there is a lack of parking along Park Street, the proposed HMO “would be in a suitable location for tenants who rely on walking, cycling and public transport”

Addressing concerns about a lack of amenity space, Mr Nield continues onto say: “The council’s Local Planning Guidance Note 5 (Houses in Multiple Occupation) says that HMOs should have a large enough private outdoor area to provide space for external drying areas, cycle parking and bin storage and to provide for the amenity of the future occupiers.

“It goes on to say that for an HMO accommodating 8 tenants it will normally seek a minimum private outdoor area of 32 m2.

“In this case, the space in the back yard of the appeal property is reported to be 27 m2. There is also a small area at the front of the property. However, that is not private space, as required.

“The limited amount of private amenity space available also falls well short of the level normally considered acceptable for a family dwelling and is a feature of this densely developed urban area.

“However, there are public open spaces only a few hundred metres away, and the yard is adequate for clothes drying and the storage of bicycles and bins.

“Whilst it does not fully meet the standard sought by the Council’s Guidance Note 5, I consider this shortcoming to be insufficient reason on its own to justify refusing the proposal.

“I conclude that the private outdoor amenity space provided would be adequate, despite its limited area.”

He also notes that whilst there have been concerns from residents about potential occupiers of the HMO and antisocial behaviour, the “licensing requirements for HMOs also provide an element of control, including a condition that the landlord is held accountable for antisocial behaviour.”

It is the second HMO in the Rhosddu to have been allowed on appeal in the past 12 months.

Grosvenor councillor Marc Jones, said: “This goes against the local planning committee‘s decision and ignores the concerns raised by myself and local residents.

“The inspector claims parking for 8 people would not be any worse than for a family. He also states that being close to public transport makes it less likely that people will need a car. What public transport?!

“He admits that the amenity space is below guidance levels for eight people but says it’s no big deal and it’s limited for a family anyway. There’s a big difference between eight individual people living under one roof and a family in terms of needing outdoor space.

“This is a poor decision by the Planning Inspectorate and confirms my view that local communities do not have enough say in planning matters.”

Source: Wrexham

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