Landlord’s fury after spending £120,000 on upgrading student home as councillors defer planning decision

A ROW has broken out between landlords and councillors following a move to block approval for a seven-bed shared home.

Wisborough Road in Southsea, Portsmouth. Picture: Google
Wisborough Road in Southsea, Portsmouth. Picture: Google

During a recent planning committee members from all parties at Portsmouth City Council agreed to defer a final decision on the Southsea property in order to build up a case for refusal, despite running the risk of a £5,000 government fine.

But the owner of the home in Wisborough Road criticised the delay after he spent time and money on the building in a bid to upgrade it from a six-bed house in multiple occupancy (HMO) to a seven-bed with a rear dormer window.

Landlord Anthony Lane said: 'The house on Wisborough Road had £120,000 spent on it last year. It's probably one of the best, most energy-efficient and modern student HMOs in town.

'Also it is probably one of the safest due to a state-of-the-art alarm system which was part of the upgrade.'

He was backed by Martin Silman, chairman of the Portsmouth and District Private Landlords Association. 'Local councillors need to accept that there are very few reported problems with HMOs and the rules that Portsmouth have put in place ensure that developments have far more space and facilities than are required elsewhere,' he said.

'Couple this with the desperate need for more housing in the city and the need to regenerate our existing housing stock, it is hard to understand why they behave so irrationally.'

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Local landlord Anthony Athill, who supported his peers, added: 'If the attitude was not so negative more landlords would opt for HMOs for poor, vulnerable and housing benefit claimants. They have to live somewhere, but as things are we all avoid this sector as the rules are too tight to be able to look after these people at an affordable level.'

But senior councillor and member of the planning committee, Councillor Donna Jones, stood by the decision. She said: 'Whilst I acknowledge there's a need for homes in Portsmouth, the recent spate of large HMOs which involve two or more unrelated people living together has all been for very small terraced houses.

'The application in question for seven people living in a flat-fronted terraced house does not address that the impact on the local community is considerable, in particular with parking.

'They should not have carried out the work to extend the home without planning permission first. This is a valuable lesson for landlords in the city.'

The home will come to a future planning committee where councillors will decide whether to approve or reject it.