'Unacceptable' HMO refused for Sunderland neighbourhood where there is already too much shared housing

Planning proposals for a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in a Sunderland street have been refused by city development chiefs.

Earlier this year, Sunderland City Council’s planning department received a planning application for 9 Rosedale Street in the Millfield ward.

This included seeking planning permission to use the property as an HMO providing bedrooms for occupiers across two floors, as well as shared kitchen and bathroom facilities and a study.

The applicant advised the city council that the building had previously been used as a “multi-let property” and planning documents stated students were ready to move in later this year.

General view of Rosedale Street in the Millfield ward.

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A planning cover letter from the applicant added the property had been “covered by a HMO licence since it was made mandatory in 2019”.

However council planners, in a report, said the applicant did “not have the evidence to produce a Certificate of Lawful Use to demonstrate that the use is lawful for planning purposes”.

After assessing the application against planning policies, Sunderland City Council’s planning department deemed the HMO plan “unacceptable” and refused it on August 15, 2022.

The main issues included the size of the bedrooms and the large number of HMOs in the area, with around 17 existing HMOs being recorded within 100 metres of the site.

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Council planners said that if the plans were approved, the number of HMOs would “exceed 10% of all residential properties within 100 metres of the application site”.

As a result, the plans clashed with the council’s recently adopted HMO Supplementary Planning Document which sets out updated planning guidance for HMO development applications on Wearside.

The council decision report adds: “With regard to amenity, it is considered that the bedrooms within the proposed HMO are small.

“The two bedrooms in the rear offshoot face into the back yard area facing a wall and where refuse would be stored, meaning these rooms will have a very poor outlook.

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“The shared kitchen/lounge room is not considered to be sufficient to afford up to five occupants within an acceptable shared space for relaxing, eating and laundry etc.

“Overall, it is considered that an HMO of up to five residents within a ‘Sunderland’ cottage with dormer windows is highly intensive and would not provide residents with an acceptable level of amenity.”

Council planners, in the report, also concluded that the HMO would be “unacceptable” given the “number of existing HMOs in the vicinity and the poor quality of accommodation in terms of the level of amenity it affords to residents.”

The applicant has the right to contest the council’s planning decision by lodging an appeal with the Secretary of State.

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For more information on the planning application, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 22/00686/FUL