Agenda item

Application 21/00478/FUL - Court Mews, Farrier Street

The Corporate Director - Planning and Governance recommends that the Planning Committee refuse the application for the reasons set out in section 9 of the report.





The Committee considered an application for the change of use of a building from a 48 bed student House of Multiple Occupation (Sui Generis) to a 46 bed homeless refuge House of Multiple Occupation (Sui Generis) with supporting staff accommodation at Court Mews, 6 Farrier Street.


Reason Why Being Considered by Planning Committee


The application had been referred to Planning Committee in accordance with the adopted Scheme of Delegation.


Report/Background/Late Papers


The report set out the background to the proposal, the site and surrounding area, the proposal itself, relevant policies, planning history and representations and consultations where applicable. 


Officer Presentation


The information  was presented as set out by the Corporate Director – Planning and Governance, in conjunction with a powerpoint presentation for the item.


The Senior Planning Officer drew the Committee’s attention to two statements, that had been received too late to circulate to Members of the Planning Committee, in advance of the meeting.


The first statement was a response from the Council’s Corporate Management Team on the housing issue and the second statement was received from the Agent in response to those comments made.


The Senior Planning Officer read out both statements to Committee Members.  Both of the statements were available on the Council’s website on the relevant application number page.


Public Representations


The following people had registered to speak on the application:


Tony Kelly (Objector representing both Farrier House Student Living and Virginia House on behalf of Mr and Mrs P. Boyd) and Melanie Green (Lotus Sanctuary in support of the application)


Key Points of Debate


·         The objector in addressing the Committee stated this area was already established as a student hub and was quite a vibrant area and relatively safe.  He was in favour of additional student accommodation which would support the local businesses. He referred to the regeneration plan for this area and did not see this proposal as enhancing the local facilities or businesses, although it was important that the homeless issue continues to be addressed.  Overall a good idea and smaller hubs would be better to integrate into communities, but this is the wrong location.  There were concerns that the management plan of the proposal was a bit sparse.  He stated that it was important to parents that students were accommodated in a safe environment.  Concerns were also raised on behalf of the Whitehouse Hotel who have had ongoing issues with the homeless.  The objector responded to a question from Members in relation to this.


·         The Regional Service Manager of Lotus Sanctuary, addressed the Committee in support of the application.  She provided background to the work of Lotus Sanctuary who already managed Pierpoint House.  This proposal will be identical, although different in size and would be supported in the same way, no complaints have been received with regard to the management of Pierpoint House.  She stated that Lotus Sanctuary were committee  to housing people with a low to medium support need, who are classed as homeless, but does not mean they are rough sleeping.  The intended clients, classed as the ‘hidden homeless’, are people who are sofa surfing, living domestic abuse situations or living in cramped B&B accommodation with children.  Lotus Sanctuary provides safe and secure housing for these vulnerable people. 


·         The Committee Members asked a variety of questions particularly around the management of the proposed site, security provision and the client group that would be using the facility.  The Regional Service Manager for Lotus Sanctuary responded accordingly.


·         Members of the Committee agreed this type of accommodation was suitable for students but had concerns as to whether it would be suitable for families as it raises safeguarding issues.  It was agreed, however, that there was a need for this type of accommodation but it was felt this was the wrong location.


·         The regeneration of this particular area, known as the Arches is to become more vibrant with an in crease in night time activity.  It was considered that the area would be unsuitable for families with young children and therefore not an appropriate location.


A proposal to refuse the application had been made and this was seconded.  There being no further points made the Chair asked the Legal Team Manager to request the voting of each Member of the Committee who were eligible to vote.  Following the recording of the votes the proposal was refused, as per the Officer’s recommendation, as follows:


For - 6

Against - 3

Abstentions - 1


RESOLVED: That the Committee refuse planning permission for the following reasons:


1.      The site is in an area which is the focus of regeneration effort to improve the diversity and quality of the area by introducing a range of uses and activities as part of the City Centre Masterplan to create new high quality public realm, strategic links and activity. This includes demolition of some existing buildings and the creation of new public realm in front of the existing student accommodation to be a pedestrian link to key areas of the city. The application therefore would be in conflict with Policy SWDP21 of the South Worcestershire Development Plan and paragraph 130 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

2.      Notwithstanding the management proposals submitted, the change of the building would result in the potential for significant levels of anti-social behaviour due to the intensive use of the site, in particular with regard to the potential for crime and anti-social behaviour, which would be to the detriment of other residents (including student accommodation) in the locality. The Local Planning Authority, having regard to the management proposals submitted and comments received consider that the proposed management arrangements would mitigate the impact of the proposals and would fail to integrate the proposals with the area in accordance with Paragraphs 93 and 187 of the NPPF and Policy SWDP21 of the South Worcestershire Development Plan.


3.      The accommodation has limited private amenity space to support each 8 person unit and the 6 person unit plus the management offices. Furthermore the occupants on the ground floor bedrooms would be adjacent to the planned footpath in close proximity. Given the proposed end user is a more vulnerable type of occupant these compromises on their level of amenity is considered unacceptable. The submission also does not include provision of cycle storage for future residents which would need to be positioned in the outdoor space and the proposed bin store provision would conflict with the use of outdoor space. Therefore, the proposal fails to meet the amenity requirements necessary in SWDP21 of the South Worcestershire Development Plan and paragraph 130 of the National Planning Policy Framework.



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