Jim Gowan’s West Hill Watch
Bedsits or family house?
An application to convert a family house in Clifton Street into a house in multiple accommodation (HMO) has been made to the City Council. In the St Peter’s and North Laine ward (within which the West Hill conservation area is situated) planning permission and an HMO licence are required where a property of more than one storey is let to three or more people who do not form a single household. In order to support mixed and balanced communities across the city new applications for HMOs will not be permitted where more than 10% of dwellings within a 50 metre radius are already licensed HMOs. From the information supplied here it seems this restriction does not apply. Local residents are often not happy when family houses become HMOs, as it can change the character of a neighbourhood when families move out and (usually) groups of students move in. Some parts of the city have become saturated with HMOs and it is likely that the West Hill area will be under increasing pressure as a consequence of having, at present, relatively few HMOs.
Another Licence for Rented Homes
The Council wants to impose a licensing scheme on all private landlords in 12 wards of the city. The licence would cost up to £600 per property and apply even if the property is let to a family or individual. So this is a different licence to the HMO licence referred to above. The Council has said that this is not merely a money-making scheme and simply aims to raise standards. It recognises that a number of landlords already deliver good quality, well-managed homes, but says it could not exempt them from the scheme. It must be hoped that this scheme does not lead to fewer family homes and to more holiday lets and ‘party houses’ as the latter will remain unlicensed.
Green Giant Slain
A proposal to fix a huge advertising sign on a building facing the Grade 2* listed Brighton Station has been refused by planning officers after it was severely criticised by the Council’s Conservation Advisory Group as being too big and too ugly and inappropriate for the conservation area. The green lettering, measuring some five and a half metres across and four metres in height was described as “dot matrix type font-dots are a vignette of different shades of green”.