Plans to turn a family home in Armley into a shared home have been refused in what local residents hope will be a landmark decision for the area.
Councillors on Leeds City Council’s south and west plans panel turned down an application to turn a four-bedroom family terrace property in Conference Road into a house of multiple occupation (HMO) for four people.
They said the application, by Oakwood-based White Owl Properties Ltd, would alter the character of the area, that another HMO would affect community cohesion, cause parking problems and would lead to the loss of a much-needed family home.
The councillors argued against council planning officers, who had recommended the plans be approved. Officers had said there was not a high enough concentration of HMOs to the south of the railway line to turn down planning permission.
But Conference Road resident Samantha Stewart told the Civic Hall meeting that there was at least four other properties that were HMOs, and another five properties – out of a total of 42 on the street – that were used as unregistered bedsits, meaning almost a quarter of properties were ‘essentially HMOs’.
Ms Stewart also pointed to parking issues in the area and concerns over noise. Fellow resident Jim Simms also raised concerns about anti-social behaviour associated with HMOs.
Applicant Sara Poskitt told the meeting she wanted to alleviate some of the concerns local residents had.
She argued that she and her partner Sam Waterworth owned six properties between them and never had any noise problems with tenants. Ms Psokitt said that tenants were always vetted, unemployed and DSS were not allowed and strict checks were in place.
Ms Poskitt said HMO tenants tended not to have the funds to maintain cars so did not foresee traffic problems and stressed her company was a responsible one.
Meeting chair Cllr Caroline Gruen (Lab, Bramley) described Ms Poskitt as a ‘very genuine’ landlady and said:
“This is a difficult decision before us all. There appears to be multiple uses of housing in one place.”
Cllr Salma Arif (Lab, Gipton and harehills) said she was ‘uneasy’ with approving the application. She added:
“If we say ‘it’s just another one’ then more will come.”
Cllr Mick Coulson (Lab, Pudsey) said the area was ‘one of the most deprived in the West of Leeds’ and ‘did not need another HMO’.
And Cllr David Congreve (Lab, Beeston and Holbeck) said there were issues with community cohesion and added:
“I do not agree with officers’ interpretation over the concentration of HMOs in the area. There’s a lot of shared housing in the adjoining streets, not just this street.”
Councillors voted to reject the application, with just one member – Cllr Barry Anderson (Cons, Adel and Wharfedale) – abstaining.
After the meeting, resident Samantha Stewart hailed the decision. She said:
“I’m relieved and hope the house can be used as a family home. I hope the community can get stronger. Hopefully the tide is turning for LS12 and that councillors take issues such as community cohesion seriously in the future.”
The application had been brought to plans panel at the request of Armley councillors Alison Lowe, James McKenna and Alice Smart, who raised concerns about the proposals.
The officer’s report can be read in full here.