Closed Sunderland community centre to become HMO after plans approved

A former community drop-in centre is set to be transformed into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) under new plans.
The building in Sailsbury StreetThe building in Sailsbury Street
The building in Sailsbury Street

Sunderland City Council planners approved a retrospective ‘change of use’ bid for the property in Hendon.

The changes will see the address in Salisbury Street become a four-bed HMO.

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HMOs refer to properties such as a house split into separate bedsits, a shared house/flat or a hostel.

They have proved controversial elsewhere as their use increases amid housing shortages and high rents.

The Salisbury Street HMO plans have not attracted any criticism, however.

Under the plans, owners will offer three bedrooms on the first floor and one bedroom on the ground floor to prospective tenants.

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The building was previously operated by voluntary organisation, United Community Action.

The charity aims to provide “support, advice, comfort and friendship” to refugees, asylum seekers, black and minority ethnic (BME) groups and other vulnerable people.

In recent years, the centre offered a range of drop-in services – including training for non-English speakers, basic computer skills and one-to-one advice sessions.

It also had key links with the Job Centre, city council and health services and worked to increase employability for clients.

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Following the planning decision, the building will revert back to its original use as a residential property.

A report from council planning officers reads: ”It’s considered that the activity associated with the proposed four-bedroom HMO (comings and goings of residents) would be comparable to the other family residences within the street and would not be excessive.

“Furthermore, it would be considered that any comings and goings would be less than that generated by the previous use as a Community Action Centre which would have included a number of staff and clients on site throughout the day.”

It adds:”The HMO is unlikely to cause significant harm to visual or residential amenity.

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“Further to this, the proposal would not be detrimental to highway or pedestrian safety and an adequate amount of parking is provided.”

During consultation no objections were raised by neighbours.

And under planning conditions, work must take place at the property within three years.