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Caerphilly Politics South Wales

Rhymney HMO plan ‘makes mockery’ of high street conservation area

16 High Street, Rhymney (on left), pictured in November 2021 (Pic: Google)

A HOUSE in Rhymney can be turned into a HMO after Caerphilly Council’s planning committee approved a conversion bid.

The proposal to transform 16 High Street from a four-bedroom house into a five-bed HMO (house in multiple occupation) was approved on Wednesday May 15, after several committee members said they felt unable to properly consider the impact on the local community.

The application had drawn opposition from some neighbours, and ward councillor Carl Cuss summed up their concerns, telling the committee the plan “makes a mockery” of the area’s conservation status.

HMOs are typically properties where unrelated, individual adults live in private bedrooms but share communal facilities, such as kitchens, bathrooms or living room areas.

In this case, applicant Bajrangi Developments plans to convert the semi-detached house at 16 High Street into a five-bed HMO over three storeys.

Cllr Cuss told the committee on Wednesday May 15 that there was local “concern and opposition to the amount of properties on High Street being turned into HMOs”.

He said “family properties… seem to be disappearing” from the area, and changing “what a traditional high street used to look like”.

His comments follow eight letters of objection from neighbours concerned about the number of local HMOs, as well as fears the development could “result in an increase in antisocial behaviour” and put pressure on local services.

But the council’s planning officers disagreed, stating in a report it is “not considered that the addition of this one bedroom would lead to a significant increase in activities at the property over and above that which could occur with the lawful use of the building”.

The planners also said “managing and preventing antisocial behaviour is a matter for the police”, and disputed claims the HMO could put “undue pressure” on public services such as GP surgeries and schools.

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At the committee meeting, Cllr Nigel Dix complained that residents’ concerns could be sidelined if there were no planning reasons to refuse an application.

“We can’t discuss… what a HMO means to a community around it,” he told colleagues.

Fellow committee member Cllr Shane Williams also said the reaction of residents “has to be relevant somewhere along the line”.

The committee granted planning permission via a majority vote.