Southend councillor calls for expanded HMO plan to be rejected

A councillor is urging Southend Council to reject plans to increase the number of bedsits in a property over fears it will cause significant strain on parking and attract anti-social behaviour.

Labour councillor Matt Dent has written to the council’s planning team to express concern over the “serious harm” that a larger HMO (house of multiple occupancy) will cause on Cromer Road, in Southend.

It comes after a planning application was submitted to the council requesting permission to increase the number of bedsits in a property from six to seven.

“In my view, there will be considerable harm to the local amenity, in terms of noise and disturbance to the local community,” wrote Mr Dent.

“Cromer Road is a quiet, family road, a community dynamic which would be disturbed by a high turnover HMO.

“Additionally, the increased number of residents would have a negative impact on the parking situation as only two off-street parking spaces are to be provided, which is not near enough for the possible number of residents in the property.”

Under the plans submitted to Southend Council, a seventh room will be created through the conversion of a maintenance store and cleaners toilet and will include an en-suite bathroom.

A previous application to expand the property to have eight bedsits was refused in March after the planning team ruled there was not enough parking and the scale of the building could result in problems for neighbours due to additional noise.

The planning documents submitted by Krystal Architecture on behalf of the applicant, note that car ownership among HMO tenants is low and therefore the parking demand is unlikely to change as a result of an additional room.

After submitting the letter, Mr Dent explained that the increase from six to seven appears minor but resident have had an issues with the building for some time but have been unable to object because a six-bedroom HMO does not require planning permission.

“Residents aren’t happy about the six-bedroom HMO, there is just nothing that can legally be done about it. I am sure that if it was originally required to get planning permission, residents would have objected to that too.”

He added that he has also been contacted by residents who are concerned about anti-social behaviour in the area, particularly in relation to drug dealing.

“There have been some concerns expressed that this HMO could feed into this problem but it is a matter of opinion over whether it will,” he said.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter