Town centre nursing home set for HMO conversion after council refusal overturned on appeal

PUBLISHED: 13:00 12 February 2020

St Saviours, in Exmouth, which is subject to a 22-bed HMO application. Picture: Google

St Saviours, in Exmouth, which is subject to a 22-bed HMO application. Picture: Google

Archant

A former town centre nursing home is set to be converted into a 19-bed house of multiple occupation (HMO) after the district council’s refusal was overturned.

Planning inspector Andrew Spencer-Peet allowed the application to convert the former St Saviours Residential Home, in Morton Road, into a HMO.

East Devon District Council's development management committee initially rejected the application with councillors saying it would have an adverse affect on the amenity and character of the area.

However, Mr Spencer-Peet disagreed with the decision and ruled that the proposal should be allowed.

He said: "The appeal scheme proposes no external changes to the front elevations of the buildings and would make some alterations to the rear in order to accommodate a number of parking spaces.

"The appeal site is located within a residential area which is characterised by properties which have multiple occupancy uses, such as flats and existing HMOs, and therefore would be likely to exhibit similar levels of activity to that of the proposed development."

Mr Spencer-Peet's report stated that there was 'public concern' about the potential for the HMO to result in anti-social behaviour but he said there was 'no objective evidence' to prove it.

He added: "The proposed development would be subject of an HMO licence and, in my view, anti-social behaviour problems are not unique to HMOs and could equally apply to other forms of residential occupation."

The inspector also recognised concerns raised about the impact of services in the area but said there was 'no firm evidence' to suggest there is insufficient capacity in Exmouth to meet the needs generated by the development.

The applicant, Mr J Garrett, also applied for a full award of costs from the district council, which Mr Spencer-Peet rejected.

In his report, the inspector said the costs application was made due to councillors refusing the proposal despite recommendations to approve from planning officers.

However, Mr Spencer-Peet said: "The council members in this case were entitled not to accept the professional advice of planning officers, with reference to the nature and number of objections received from interested parties."

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