A businessswoman has mounted a last-ditch effort to try and persuade planners to change their mind over her Airbnb venture.
Helen Goudie turned part of her Washington Village property into the Escape Hot Tub House to support and build on the Sanmarie beauty salon she set up 20 years ago, with guests welcome to book in treatments as part of their stay.
But Sunderland City Council has served an enforcement notice and warned she must cease running the accommodation by Sunday, September 23, or face a fine of up to £20,000.
It turned down a retrospective change of use application, after it said the holiday let for up to eight people would have an adverse impact on neighbours.
The Government’s Planning Inspectorate then dismissed her appeal against that.
It said while some would be seeking a quiet and relaxing holiday, it was also likely “many visits will be characterised by the excitement of raised voices, banter and laughter” concluding that the development would disturb neighbours.
I know I’m doing a good job and I want to show people that Washington is a lovely area.Helen Goudie
Helen, who has been running it as an Airbnb for around 18 months, says the popularity of the accommodation proves she is meeting a demand, with people visiting for work and events such as the Great North Run and Sunderland International Airshow.
Helen, who is mum to Brooke, 25, and James, 23, said a list of rules helps keep guests in check and hopes a petition will sway the authorities.
The 49-year-old, who runs the business with mum Bertha Morris, 80, and lives in an annex of the Well Bank Road property, said: “I have lovely families come for events, people stop here because it’s well run and I’ve been here for 20 years.
“I know I’m doing a good job and I want to show people that Washington is a lovely area.
“I’m trying to earn myself a living.
“I’ve put up a petition and there’s almost 1,300 signatures and there’s lots of support from people.”
However, the council found in its planning assessment that whether by “design or not” the fact it was being marketed as a hot tub house would attract groups making milestones or for gatherings including hen dos.
Cabinet Secretary Councillor Paul Stewart said: “The council always welcomes appropriate planning applications and is always keen for applications that help bring business and investment to our city.
“As with all applications, the council looked at this on its merits and in line with local and national planning guidance and legislation.
“In this particular case the council also received several objections from neighbours concerned about the application.
“The application was refused and an enforcement notice served.
“The applicant exercised her right to go to appeal and the planning inspector upheld the council’s original decision and the enforcement notice.
“In coming to his decision the inspector recognised that to allow the development would result in ‘harm to living conditions of nearby residents, with particular regard to noise disturbance.’”
The authority added any breach of the enforcement notice after this date is a criminal offence which can lead to a prosecution and it carries a maximum fine of £20,000 upon conviction.