Sutton Bonington is a large village with a wide range of services including a post office and general store, a primary school, a doctor’s surgery, a public house and a village hall with library. In planning terms, it is sustainable.
The property in question is a large, turn of the century, two and a half storey, detached former farmhouse within the village. The house had been used as a house in multiple occupation (HIMO/HMO) for many years and the applicant wanted to ensure that this was being undertaken legitimately.
An application to ‘regularise’ the use of the building as a HMO was refused by the Council. Many people wrote in to object to the application, uncomfortable with the flexible tenure use of the property. As a result, the Council refused the application based on the perceived impact it had on the surrounding neighbours and that it resulted in an ‘over intensive use’ of the site.
We appealed against the decision on the grounds that the dwelling could comfortably accommodate the number of occupants, there was sufficient parking, rooms sizes were good and there were two kitchens and several bathrooms.
The regulation of HMO’s is separate from planning, requiring a license in its own right. It was not possible to get a license due to the fact that it did not having planning permission to be used as a large HMO (up to 6 adults can live in a house without needing express planning permission, once this number is exceeded it is classed as a different land use and requires permission).
Therefore the key issue was the social benefit of the scheme and whether this outweighed the perceived harm caused by the building being used by tenants living individually within the dwelling. The inspector agreed that the house was sufficiently large to be used as a large HMO and that it was right to allow the HMO licensing department to control its use and not the planning department.
The success is great news for the occupants. Residents can continue to live there safe in the knowledge that the use of the house is legal but it is also good for the housing mix of Sutton Bonington, ensuring an important community facility for flexible, affordable accommodation is protected.