Express & Star

Stafford houses set to be turned into HMOs despite objections from police

Permission has been granted for three neighbouring houses in a Stafford street to be converted into houses of multiple occupancy despite objections from the police.

Three houses in Stafford are set to become Houses of Multiple Occupancy despite objections

Numbers 18, 19 and 20 in Browning Street will now become houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) after Stafford Borough Council's planning department gave the green light.

Stafford Police had objected to the plans, claiming they had not been given enough information about the planned HMOs. The Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service also demanded a sprinkler system be installed to ensure they could prevent "the loss of the building".

There has been evidence that roads can become blighted by anti-social behaviour and crime issues created by having several HMOs in one street. In Birmingham, entire roads are HMOs and crime has reportedly soared.

Stafford Borough Council's planning report noted the police's objections to the three neighbouring HMOs.

The report stated: "The Police Liaison Officer has commented, raising several concerns surrounding security, parking, management and maintenance etc, and objecting on the basis of lack of information.

"The police also raised that other councils have made an Article 4 Direction relating to houses in multiple occupation to remove permitted development rights for development comprising change of use from a use falling within Class C3 to a use falling within C4."

However, planning officers ignored the police's objections, claiming they did not create a legal basis to turn down the planning application.

The report said: "This is a Lawful Development Certificate application which requires an assessment as to the lawfulness of the proposal solely having regard to the relevant legal tests and based on the facts of the case as assessed above.

"The relative ‘suitability’ of the site and the planning merits of any future use are not relevant, and they are not therefore an issue for officers to consider. The property in question is not subject to an Article 4 direction, and there is no indication that permitted development rights have been removed."

The Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service submitted a report demanding certain fire safety measures in the HMOs.

In a letter to the council, the fire service said: "Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service would strongly recommend that consideration be given to include the installation of Automatic Water Suppression Systems as part of a total fire protection package.

"Without this provision, the fire and rescue service may have some difficulty in preventing a complete loss of the building and its contents, should a fire develop beyond the stage where it cannot be dealt with by employees using first aid fire fighting equipment such as a portable fire extinguisher."

Stafford Borough Council granted permission for the houses to be turned into HMOs.