Government inspector backs Fenland Council and refuses HMO for up to 16 people in Wisbech house

17 Leverington Road, Wisbech, refused permission on appl to become an HMO.

17 Leverington Road, Wisbech, refused permission on appl to become an HMO. - Credit: Archant

A bid to turn a £210,000 empty five bedroom house into a nine-bed house of multiple occupancy (HMO) has been refused on appeal.

he decision by the Planning Inspectorate follows an appeal lodged by Guyhirn businessman Alan Samuels who had wanted to make 17 Leverington Road, Wisbech, an HMO for up to 16 people.

Fenland District Council refused the application and now a Government inspector, who heard an appeal by Mr Samuels, has supported the refusal.

Hayden Baugh-Jones, the inspector, concluded that the “sharing of two bathrooms by 16 people would be likely to result in substantial waiting periods.

“I do not consider that this would provide the appropriate level of access to these facilities to meet the day-to-day washing and toilet needs of the number of occupants would reside in the property”.

Mr Baugh-Jones said he accepted the possibility of en-suite facilities being provided but since these had not been specified he could only reach conclusions based on the planning documents he considered. He added given that the amount of living space provided in each room – and considered when he visited the house- it was doubtful if this could be achieved.

However he felt the kitchen would “just about be of sufficient size” but given the issues with the bathrooms it would not provide sufficient levels of residential amenity.

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The inspector agreed with Mr Samuels that he would be providing sufficient parking space and he felt the overall appearance would not affect the street scene – one of the issues raised by Fenland Council.

He accepted there would be benefits in bringing the house back into use but “any such benefits could be outweighed by the clear identified harm to the living conditions of the development’s future occupiers”.

Mr Baugh-Jones also dismissed an application by Mr Samuels for costs on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour by the council.

He said planning committee minutes record that although officers backed the HMO, councillors “exercised their own planning judgement in reaching a different conclusion to that of their officers”.

He said the council’s position had been substantiated at appeal and Mr. Samuels had failed to show he had incurred “unnecessary or wasted expense in defending the appeal”.

Wisbech Town Council maintained their opposition to the conversion and said refurbishment of the house was preferred but not at any cost.

Neighbours signed a petition in a bid to prevent the house being turned into a HMO.