Elvet Estates assisted by the Planning Station representing an overseas client has successfully appealed a planning decision of Durham County Council who rejected an attempt to convert 10 High Wood View into a house of multiple occupation. The process took over 12 months in total but means that 10 High Wood View which is directly opposite to the University Law School can now be used as a house in multiple occupation from September.
Peter Smith Managing Director of Elvet Estates whilst delighted with the outcome feels a degree of sympathy for the council planners. “the policy is not clear and open for so much interpretation. It is far easier for the council to reject plans and have them determined by the planning inspectorate as it introduces a degree of plausible deniability on their part. They have a tough job to do and need the tools to do it. A clearer policy is what is needed, and this decision seems to give guidance that if there is a level of HMO within 100 meters of 70% or above then consent should be given. At the moment a coach and horses can be driven through the policy. The lower limit in relation to the number of HMO in a 100 meter radius, may be somewhat restrictive but the total lack of an upper limit is preventing sound applications from being granted and stopping long term residents or their heirs from getting the best value for their homes or even being able to sell them at all”.
The Article 4 Direction was introduced in 2016 to help prevent the spread of Student Housing in the face of the expansion of Durham University. Peter Smith added, “Durham is not alone in having issues with its policies, we do work in 16 University Towns and Cities and 14 of them have article 4 direction and all face similar issues”.
As well as winning the appeal Elvet Estates also won a costs order against the council as in the words of the Inspector Mr Tim Wheeler Durham County Council has exhibited unreasonable behaviour "resulting in unnecessary or wasted expense, described in the Planning Practice Guidance, has been demonstrated and that a full award of costs is justified."
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