Agenda item

Application DM/2021/01562 - Change of use from C3 (dwelling) to C4 (HMO). Plot 5, Lower Hardwick, Hardwick Hill, Chepstow


We considered the report of the application and late correspondence which was recommended for approval subject to the conditions outlined in the report.


The local Member for Larkfield, Chepstow, attending the meeting by invitation of the Chair, outlined the following points:


·         Problems commonly associated with a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) include damage to social cohesion with higher levels of transient residents and fewer long term households and established families.


·         Increases in anti-social behaviour, noise and other potentially associated crime.


·         Reduction in the quality of the local environment and street scene due to increased litter refuse, fly tipping and increased levels of disrepair.


·         A change of character in the area.


·         Increased pressure on parking.


·         A reduction in provision of community facilities for families and children.


·         In 2017, Welsh Government conceded in its guidance on HMOs that due to the nature of HMOs, residents on low incomes and vulnerable groups are likely to be unrelated and they can be more intensive than single use households.


·         Welsh Government has encouraged local authorities to move away from HMOs to more self-contained.  The original applications for all the properties on this site were for family residential dwellings.


·         More family accommodation is needed in Chepstow.


·         The site already has access challenges in terms of accessing Hardwick Hill Lane off the A48 and into the site itself.  Highways concerns have been highlighted by the Highways Department which includes parking stress that will be caused on adjacent streets if the application is approved.


·         The application is for five bedrooms but there are only three parking spaces. Realistically, there will be more than three cars being parked in the driveway with significantly increased traffic movement in Hardwick Hill Lane.


·         As there is no one way system along Hardwick Hill Lane, the challenges of ingress / egress car manoeuvres are extreme.


·         The site is logistically impractical for this application as it will compromise highway safety.


·         The application is located within an air quality management zone and the access point to Hardwick Hill Lane is opposite the diffusion tube which measures the levels of pollution in that area of the zone. This measuring point has the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide in the entire zone since the removal of the bridge tolls which has resulted in more traffic movement and more pollution.


·         Monmouthshire County Council has called a climate emergency. Planning Policy has a significant role to play in assisting the Authority to deal with that critical incident warning.


·         The local Member enquired as to what consultation had been undertaken with Environmental Health and Welsh Government to oversee the management of the zone.


·         Approval of this application would go against the management air quality zone and the calling of a climate emergency.


Having considered the report of the application and the views expressed, the following points were noted:


·         Housing provision needs to be properly managed.  A Member expressed concern that anti-social behaviour can occur within HMOs if not managed properly.


·         HMOs also play a role for providing accommodation for professional people / key workers.


·         It was considered that there are no material planning reasons to refuse this application.


·         Concern was expressed that the proposed HMO would be run by a private landlord and not by a Registered Social Landlord (RSL).


·         Concern was expressed as to whether the application did comply with Policy H9(d) due to parking provision at the site. The development is close to the junction with Hardwick Hill and traffic problems already exist at this location.


·         In response, the Development Services Manager informed the Committee that the site is in walking / cycling distance to the centre of Chepstow town.  Welsh Government emphasises the need not to rely on parking standards that would have been applied in the past at this location. Therefore, there is a strong case to argue that three parking spaces to serve up to six individuals living in the property is reasonable. The parking guidelines have been applied, in this case, in a sensible, proportionate and sustainable manner and would argue that the application does comply with Policy H9.


·         In response to a question raised regarding the need for the installation of fire doors within a HMO, this matter would be addressed via Building Control with a view to approving building regulations at the property.


·         It was noted that the Environmental Health department has not objected to the application. Approval of the application should not create any further impact than is already the permitted lawful use for the site, namely, a single household dwelling house.


The local Member summed up as follows:


·         The property is currently a family dwelling and could be sold as such.


·         There are limited circumstances where HMOs can work in this Authority, for example, to deliver supported living arrangements for adults with learning disabilities or adults that require extra care. This could work due to the lack of car ownership.


·         It was considered that this is not the right policy goal for housing in this area nor in the County.


·         The application is not in the right location because of the limited traffic access with additional parking stress and air quality management issues that have been raised.


·         It was considered that more than three cars would be required. There is no parking provision for visitors to the property.


·         Air quality will be adversely affected should the application be approved.


·         Should the application be approved, conditions should be considered to limit the number of rooms to three then living amenity and the area in relation to traffic and parking could be improved.


It was proposed by County Councillor J. Becker and seconded by County Councillor A. Webb that application DM/2021/01562 be approved subject to the conditions outlined in the report and that condition 4 be amended as follows:


The property shall not be occupied by more than six persons at any one time within use Class C4 (a House in Multiple Occupation).


Upon being put to the vote, the following votes were recorded:


For approval             -           11

Against approval      -           1

Abstentions               -           1


The proposition was carried.


We resolved that application DM/2021/01562 be approved subject to the conditions outlined in the report and that condition 4 be amended as follows:


The property shall not be occupied by more than six persons at any one time within use Class C4 (a House in Multiple Occupation).




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