New rule is used to stop Portsmouth student house conversion

MP for Havant, Alan Mak

MP Alan Mak named a senior parliamentary aide in government reshuffle

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NEW rules have been used for the first time to stop a family home being converted for students.

Portsmouth City Council’s planning committee voted to block the conversion of 72 Britannia Road North, Southsea, to a house for seven students.

It used a new planning rule which states no new houses should be converted if the number of houses containing separate, private individual tenants is ten per cent or higher in any area.

On Britannia Road North, the application would have meant 30 per cent of houses on the road were used for ‘multiple occupancy’.

Britannia Road North resident Martin Robinson opposed the plan.

He said: ‘I’m very glad the committee turned it down. Where we live the community is being destroyed, and lots of that is down to students.

‘They leave litter out, play music very loud and hold late parties. They cause parking problems.

‘Not all students are the same, as I was a student once and we do see good students where we live.

‘But many of them don’t have a feel for the community, because they’re not here long. As a result, the community feel of our area is dying.

‘We ask the university for help, and they do some good, but not enough.

‘It’s a problem across the city.’

The council developed its ‘Houses of Multiple Occupation’ policy last year, after a series of planning applications the committee was powerless to turn down.

Many residents spoke out against the growing number of multi-occupant rented properties in their areas, causing the city’s leader for planning, Cllr Mike Hancock, to agree to put the 10 per cent limit in the city’s new core planning strategy.

The strategy is set to be examined by the secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles, MP, from October 3.

But the fact it has been sent to him means it can be used to justify a planning decision.

Planning committee member Cllr Lee Hunt said: ‘This is an issue we have been struggling with for a long period.

‘This is a sign we have fought back, and we have a policy in place to stop more of these conversions.

‘We can’t go back in time and remove the houses which have already been converted, but we can stop too many more conversions happening.’