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Agenda item

DM/18/03308/FPA - 35 Front Street, Framwellgate Moor, Durham

Change of use from hairdressing training centre to 8 bed house in multiple occupation (sui generis).



The Planning Officer, Susan Hyde, gave a detailed presentation on the report relating to the abovementioned planning application, a copy of which had been circulated (for copy see file of minutes).  Members noted that the written report was supplemented by a visual presentation which included photographs of the site.  The Planning Officer, SH advised that Members of the Committee had visited the site and were familiar with the location and setting.  The application was for change of use from hairdressing training centre to 8 bed house in multiple occupation (sui generis) and was recommended for approval, subject to conditions.


The Planning Officer, SH noted the site was in a sustainable part of Framwellgate Moor and explained it was part of the allocated centre, with a number of amenities nearby.  Members were informed of the adjoining social club to one side, and residential property to the other side.  It was explained that the only access to the rear garden was via the property, on foot through the property, and for vehicles via the single width garage, no access from the rear, Alexandra Close.  The Committee noted no changes to the elevations of the property, and the proposed internal layout retained the garage and there was internal alterations to accommodate the eight bedrooms.  It was added that the Licensing Section had confirmed compliance in terms of headroom for the second floor. 


Members were informed that there had been no objections from Environmental Health, subject to conditions including noise insulation.  It was added there had been no objections from Highways, as the property was in a sustainable location, with amenities and transport links.  Councillors noted that the House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Officer had noted the application met the required standards for HMO licensing.  The Planning Officer, SH noted responses from the public, with 3 objections from nearby residents from Front Street and Alexandra Close.  She explained the objections were summarised within the report and related to: students occupying the property; increase noise and disturbance; the rear garden not being utilised for parking as per the previous planning consent; and the impact on parking.


The Planning Officer, SH noted that the application was considered acceptable in terms of being within a sustainable location, and reiterated that the previous uses of the property had been residential dwelling and hairdressing training centre, it had not previously been used as a retail unit.  It was added that in terms of the sustainable location and two parking spaces provided within the garage the application was considered acceptable in highways terms.


The Planning Officer noted a change to Condition 3 as set out within the report, in order to be more precise, with the wording to include “…noise and meet noise regulations in Building Regulation document E”.  Members noted the application was recommended for approval, subject to conditions and the amendment as explained by the Planning Officer, SH.


The Chairman thanked the Planning Officer, SH and asked Councillor M Wilkes, Local Member, to speak in objection to the application. 


Councillor M Wilkes thanked the Committee for the opportunity to speak in relation to the application.  He noted he was speaking on behalf of a number of residents with concerns, his fellow Local Members, and the Parish Council and was asking that the Committee refuse the application.  He explained that there was no objection from residents in terms of the property and site being developed, if the application was for the right development.  He added that the application did not take into account residential amenity of nearby residents, nor that of the potential occupants of the property when considering the amount of parking provision.  Councillor M Wilkes noted that the use was not specifically for students and there was no conditions relating to this.  He added that initially that there was to be parking in the rear garden and within the garage space, with no parking at the rear within the application being considered.  He noted that as the proposal was for a tandem garage, there would be a need to manoeuvre cars in order to get a vehicle at the rear of the garage out.  Councillor M Wilkes noted that this would not be suitable should the property not be occupied by students, other types of occupiers likely having more vehicles, potentially eight.  He noted that parking and access standards looked for a three metre width for parking, he suggested that given the width of the door was 2.34 metres that the driver would probably be stuck in their vehicle.  Councillor M Wilkes noted that there was not capacity outside of the property or nearby properties, with the pub and public car parks nearby locked at night, and that the displacement of vehicles was a concern.


Councillor M Wilkes explained that if the Committee were minded to refuse the application, they may wish to consider City of Durham saved Local Plan Policy T1 in relation to traffic, where an application would not be approved if the development was detrimental to highways safety or have a significant negative impact on the amenity of occupiers of neighbouring properties.  He added that the parking did not meet the minimum requirements in terms of parking and accessibility standards.  Councillor M Wilkes noted that if one was to agree the proposed parking arrangements, he would then ask how bins would be moved from the rear of the property through two parked cars to the front of the property on collection day.  He noted this was poor design, contrary to saved Policies Q1 and Q2, and there would likely be a need for multiple bins in terms of the number of potential occupants.  Councillor M Wilkes explained he felt the application was also contrary to saved Policy H9, in terms of the sub-division of the property likely to have an adverse effect on the amenity of nearby residents.  He concluded by asking Members to refuse the application on those grounds.


The Chairman thanked Councillor M Wilkes and asked the Planning Officer, SH to respond to the issues raised.


The Planning Officer, SH noted that the application had two spaces shown within the existing garage space, currently empty, and that given the sustainable location with nearby shops, New College Durham and bus stops, the provision as proposed was reasonable.  She continued noting that Councillor M Wilkes was correct, the change of use to C4, HMO did not specify the type of tenant therefore there was a range of use, not just for students.

The Planning Officer, SH explained that in respect of bin storage, Councillor M Wilkes was also correct in that the bins would need to be moved to the front of the property, via the garage, and this could be an inconvenience, however this was the case for many properties.  She added that the Applicant had noted that a local agent would manage the property and a tenancy agreement would be in place.  It was reiterated that Officers felt that the application was suitable in terms of a HMO.


The Highway Development Manager, John McGargill explained that in terms of saved Policy T1 it was not felt after assessment that there was grounds for refusal.  He noted the extant permission for the hairdressing training session and added that upon looking at the demand for parking, at that time the parking within the curtilage was not used, with a likely demand of three or four staff and several students.  He noted that particular use could recommence at any time and that demand on parking materialise.  He added that looking at other commercial demand in the area, there were 12 staff within the nearby six units, with all parking on the street.  The Highway Development Manager noted that residential use was different to commercial use, with staff likely to park during the day, and residents to park on an evening, so in effect there would be an exchange of spaces, with 12 staff vacating spaces and eight potential residents to take those up.  He added that there were 56 car parking spaces nearby at the community centre and Parish Council on the opposite side of the main road.  The Highway Development Manager added that the application was in a very sustainable location with many shops nearby and bus stops.  He explained that given this it would be difficult to uphold any objection in terms of Policy T1 as there needed to be “significant” effect, with perhaps some potential occupants needing to park a little way from the property, however, there was sufficient parking in the area.


The Chairman thanked the Officers and asked Members of the Committee for their comments and questions.


Councillor O Temple noted that when visiting the site earlier in the day he had noted how well the property would lend itself to residential space if sound-proofed.  However, he added that he felt the parking arrangements were not fine, with the garage feeling more akin to an alleyway that had been built over and that the large garden, currently in a state of disrepair, would be far better suited for around 6 vehicles to be parked.  He added that in HMOs a garden was not the “crowning feature” and that the poor example at this property would be better suited for parking, accessed via driving through the “garage”.  He added that he felt it was a pity that the application was such to remove the parking to the rear and asked if planning had sought this.  Councillor O Temple reiterated the point made by Councillor M Wilkes in relation to the bins and movement on collection days.  He explained that he felt that the reasons suggested in terms of saved Local Plan Policies T1, Q1 and Q2 for refusal could be used in terms of supporting a recommendation for refusal.  He added that it may be possible to argue that the application was contrary to Policy H13 in addition, and concluded by noting that many of the issues with the application could be perhaps remedied with the replacement of the garage door with an electric gate to allow access to the rear garden.


The Chairman asked if the Planning Officer could respond to the points raised.  The Planning Officer, SH noted that the change to the parking arrangements was made by the Applicant and that Planners had only spoke in terms of clarity on how the doors would work and that the Applicant had chosen to submit the form presented to Committee.


Councillor J Robinson noted he was sad that there was yet another HMO application for Durham.  He asked as regards paragraph 35 of the report, with the previous consent having a parking scheme which had not been implemented and whether for consistency this application should have a similar scheme.  The Planning Officer, SH noted it had been a material consideration for that previous scheme, however, the approved plans had not been implemented.


Councillor M Clarke noted the building would benefit from internal refurbishment and that the main issue seemed to be that of parking.  He agreed that it would be better if the parking was to the rear of the property, and while potential occupants would not need to rely upon a car given the location, it was still likely that an occupant would have a car and this would increase demand on spaces.  Councillor M Clarke noted the proposed tandem garage arrangement had the potential for arguments and noted a national average of 46.8 percent of students owning a car, yet the eight bedroom proposal only had provision for two car parking spaces.  He added that this did not take into account potential visitors to the property and that any tenancy agreement, even with a local agent engaged, was not a “policing agreement”.  He concluded by noting he was minded to agree with the concerns raised by local residents.


Councillor O Temple noted he would propose that the application be refused on the grounds the application was contrary to Policies Q1 and Q2, being of poor design, in relation to the bin store and means of placing bins out for collection.


The Solicitor – Planning and Development, Neil Carter noted that the main issues raised seemed to relate to the proposed parking arrangements and how this would also have a knock-on effect in relation to how bins could be presented for collection.  He noted that this was not in relation to saved Policy T1 and added that if the garden was allocated as the parking for the development, it would not be possible to force the occupants to use it as such, similar to the extant permission not having this, and with occupants still having the option to utilise the garage space, still causing the issue in terms of bin movement as discussed.


Councillor O Temple noted that if there were not the parking to the rear, then there would not be the option to use it.  He asked why not apply a reasonable approach and approve amenity for the occupants and residents nearby by removing the tandem garage use and have the rear garden used for parking.


The Solicitor – Planning and Development reiterated that the previous use as a hairdressing training centre had not developed the rear garden for parking, a breach of their permission, a separate enforcement issue.  He added that if the application was revised as suggested, there was still the potential for the same issue to arise. 

He noted he was simply querying the sustainability of a refusal reason on that basis, however, this could be an aspect Members wished explored and may wish for a deferment to allow this to take place.


Councillor O Temple proposed the application be deferred, he was seconded by Councillor M Clarke.




That the application be DEFERRED.

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714