Decision delayed on controversial HMO plans for property in Sunderland's Chester Road

Councillors have delayed making a decision on plans for a new five-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Sunderland.
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Proposals for the property at 265 Chester Road, in the Barnes area, went before the latest meeting of Sunderland City Council’s planning and highways committee (on Monday July 31).

The application, from Mr Paul Smith, sought to convert the two-storey end of terrace property, opposite St. Gabriel’s Church and close to Sunderland Royal Hospital, into a five-bedroom HMO.

All of the bedrooms would have ensuite bathrooms, with two bedrooms on the ground floor and three on the first floor, according to the plans

Street view of Chester Road, Sunderland. Pic via Google Maps.Street view of Chester Road, Sunderland. Pic via Google Maps.
Street view of Chester Road, Sunderland. Pic via Google Maps.
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The site would also offer a shared living space consisting of a kitchen/dining area and two on-site parking spaces provided within the rear yard.

Council planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval subject to conditions in their report.

However Barnes ward representative, councillor Ehthesham Haque, who referred the application to the committee, objected to the proposal, raising concerns over the strain on parking in the area the HMO would cause.

Speaking at the meeting, he said: “There is no parking available at the front of course because it’s Chester Road.

“It’s probably one of the busiest roads in the city.”

James Stephenson, planning agent speaking on behalf of the applicant, said while two parking spaces would be provided off-street in a garage, car ownership would likely not be high amongst potential occupants.

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He said: “They live in these sort of properties near to areas of employment such as the hospital, city centres, for that reason, it’s well linked by public transport and it’s within walking distance as well.

“What you find is the demographic of the people who live in house shares tend to be in their early to late 20s.

“What you would probably find, if that was just to remain as a residential home, a typical family home, they would probably have a higher level of car ownership than what five separate people living in a house share would.”

He added space for bike storage would also be provided in the back garden.

Committee member Councillor James Warne proposed deferring the application to allow a site visit to take place so they can view the property and “understand collectively the position”, which was agreed.

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The proposals will come back before the committee for a decision next month.

The same application had previously been refused by officers earlier this year, due to the absence of an agreed financial contribution towards ecological mitigation measures.

However the latest proposals have resolved that issue, with the potential approval being subject to a section 106 legal agreement securing £686.46 as a coastal mitigation contribution.