'Cramped' bedsits refused planning permission as council finds marketing for up to 17 people

Oaklands Avenue, Norton, photographed in April 2023
Oaklands Avenue, Norton, photographed in April 2023 -Credit:Google

A plan for "cramped" bedsits has been refused after objectors branded it a "monstrosity".

The proposal to extend a home on Oaklands Avenue, Norton for three bedsits was rejected by Stockton Council. The council said a semi-detached three-bedroom home and extensions had been marketed online for up to 17 people, and its legal chief was authorised to take action to stop the short-term letting of the bedsits.

The extensions had already been built, but the authority turned down a part-retrospective planning application for the three bedsits. It maintained the change to a modest semi-detached property would encourage others to do the same in a family residential area.

The council said it had already given planning permission for extensions at the house. But there had been "deviations to the design".

Officers said the main house and three bedsits had been made available as short-term lettings. They found the home was marketed as a five-bedroom property to let to up to eight guests, the bedsits to occupy three people each, adding up to "17 persons living at the property when fully booked".

The council said it would be "out of character with the surrounding area and as a result would set a harmful and adverse precedent for the other properties within the area to convert and subdivide a dwelling". They also said it would increase activity at the home and have an "unacceptable impact" on neighbours with its "intensification and transient nature".

They argued one bedsit would not have enough floor space or natural light. They also contended the bedsits would not have enough parking, needing seven spaces, posing a problem for road safety.

The plan attracted objectors, one saying it "stands as a fine example to anybody else within the area that you can feel free to build whatever you want and worry about planning applications later... I worry for the safety of anybody actually living or staying in this property.

'Abysmal eyesore'

"On several occasions people who have booked to stay have left rather frustrated to say the least over the condition of inside the property. If a building inspector ever does decide to pay a visit I'm sure they will have a field day."

The objector said it was causing upset and misery, raised issues of privacy, disruption and noise of "people coming and going day and night, doors slamming and furniture scraping", and said they had considered moving house as a result. Another objector said it was an "abysmal eyesore" which had been used as a bed and breakfast "with strangers arriving at all hours", building works all year, parking issues and bright lights all night long: "We are not comfortable in our own house anymore.

"The whole property is overused. The street is not safe for children to play.

"The street is awful now. It has already devalued and people are trying to sell up all around this monstrosity."

The council's report said: "The subdivision of a residential property into three bedsits attached to the main dwelling has the potential to change the character of an area, particularly where such conversions have not been introduced into an area. It should be noted that the location of the site is in an area which is generally characterised by modestly sized properties within a family orientated area of the borough.

"Concentrations or instances of flatted accommodation has the potential to change the entire character of an area, and the council would seek to guard against this. It is considered that to allow flatted accommodation or development that would result in a transient population within this particular area of the borough would create an adverse and harmful precedent.

"Once approved at one location, it is difficult to resist at neighbouring properties."

Officers found the extensions were "sympathetic to the host dwelling", but the bedsits were "significantly below space standard requirements", less than half the minimum for a one-bedroom flat in one case. They added: "Each bedsit is cramped and particularly in bedsit 2 whereby there is no window or natural light to the ground floor living, cooking and showering area."

Arcidoodle LLP, the agent for applicant Favour Aboh, has been contacted for a comment.

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