Kings Drive HMO plans refused despite costly appeal warnings

Photo of a row of terraced homes with car parks in front.
112 Kings Drive, Stoke Gifford (the middle property). Image: Google Maps via Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Plans to turn a family home into seven bedsits on a “cramped” estate in Stoke Gifford have been refused by councillors against the advice of officers despite warnings of a costly appeal.

South Gloucestershire Council’s Development Management Committee was recommended to approve the change of use at 112 Kings Drive [map] to a ‘house in multiple occupation’ (HMO).

But members voted 6:2 to reject the proposals, saying they were unhappy about parking issues and communal space for occupants at the mid-terrace three-storey property.

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A planning officer told the meeting on Thursday 13th October 2022, that there were no objections from highways officers and that a parking survey commissioned by applicants Pasha Wealth, a lettings company, showed there were enough spaces in the area, with two of the four needed provided on site.

She said refusal could result in an appeal which would require the council to provide firm evidence to justify the decision when officers had assessed that the plans complied with the authority’s own policies.

The officer said that while the property already had very limited amenity space, the application would not make a poor situation worse.


Cllr Mike Bell said:

“It’s a cramped development and the roads are narrow. There is parking on the pavement which is a hazard to pedestrians.”

“It will bring additional parking issues to the area.”

“We all want to refuse this but we are bound by our own policies and the threat of claims against the council.”

“We are driven into a corner. It’s difficult for us to make a decision because our hearts tell us no but the policies are getting us to agree to something we don’t agree with.”

Cllr Ernie Brown (Stoke Gifford) said:

“Cars have to park on the pavement, otherwise ambulances and services can’t get through.”

“It’s a nightmare and this will just worsen the situation.”

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Cllr Tristan Clark said there should be more communal space in the building and that he found it “unnerving” members were expected to “shrug” and accept what was proposed.

Andrew Shore, chair of the Planning & Transportation Committee at Stoke Gifford Parish Council, which objected to the scheme along with six residents, told members:

“This is not an appropriate site for an HMO and should be refused.”

The planning officer said that while concerns about parking would be hard to justify at appeal, one reason for rejecting the conversion could be that the parking survey provided insufficient information because it took place in July when all the students who rent flats in the area and their cars were away.

Cllr Colin Hunt said:

“The officer has put forward a fantastic reason for refusal that we could defend at appeal.”

“We could not defend on parking but insufficient information is very valid.”

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More information and related links:

✍️ Article by Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

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Appeal lodged

UPDATE added 27th March 2023.

The applicant has duly lodged an appeal against the decision of the local planning authority.

The appeal reference number is APP/P0119/W/23/3314238 and the start date is 14th March 2023.

Additional comments by interested parties must be made by 18th April 2023.

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Appeal dismissed

UPDATE added 30th May 2023.

A government-appointed planning inspector has dismissed the appeal against South Gloucestershire Council’s decision to reuse planning permission.

The inspector concludes that the development would provide “unsatisfactory living conditions for occupiers having regard to the quantity and quality of private outdoor space”. This is because the garden of 11m2 would be significantly below the 35m2 minimum guide figure derived from a council policy that requires 5m2 of outdoor space for a single one-bedroom flat – whereby it is assumed that the same space should be provided for each of the seven bedsits.

In relation to parking, the inspector concludes that “the small amount of overspill parking as a result of the proposal could be accommodated on nearby streets”.

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In his report, the inspector writes:

“The development would be acceptable in terms of parking. However, it would be contrary to Local Plan policies that seek satisfactory living conditions for residents in terms of private external space provision. The modest benefits of the scheme fail to justify a decision other than in accordance with the development plan.”

Partial costs have been awarded to the appellant due to the council’s failure to (a) properly justify its criticism of the supplied parking survey report and (b) provide evidence to show “how street parking associated with the appeal development would be detrimental to highway safety or residential amenity”.

The inspector’s full report and costs decision are available on the appeal webpage APP/P0119/W/23/3314238.

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One comment

  1. The applicant has duly lodged an appeal against the decision of the local planning authority.

    For further details, see update appended to the above article.

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