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Merthyr Tydfil Politics South Wales

Decision on Dowlais HMO plans put on hold for site visit

The Hmo Would Be Located On Overton Street In Dowlais (Pic: Google Maps)

A DECISION on plans to turn a four-bedroom house into a six-bedroom house in multiple occupation (HMO) in the Dowlais area of Merthyr Tydfil has been put on hold for councillors to visit the site.

The application for the HMO in Overton Street, Dowlais went before the council’s planning committee on Wednesday, February 28, but the committee voted in favour of a site visit.

The chair of the committee and local member Councillor Declan Sammon recommended the visit due to concerns from residents about the change in fabric of the area, and that it would have a detrimental effect with issues over parking, anti-social behaviour and how the property would be managed.

There were nine public objections which said the proposal would change the fabric of the small street and be detrimental to its character, which is mainly made up of families with young children, causing an adverse long-term effect on nearby residents.

They said the street is already heavily congested and the parking situation is extremely difficult. While there is a car park across the road from the property, this fills up very quickly and the creation of a HMO property would only exacerbate the issue.

They said the provision of a HMO would result in disruptions and other nuisances and deteriorate the existing quiet and safe street it currently is and the proposal is likely to result in an increase in anti-social behaviour. There are also concerns over who would deal with such issues.

The objections said the proposed use would increase the risk of fire at the property, which could have devastating consequences for its occupiers and surrounding residents and the street already has a high level of anti-social behaviour, particularly near the archway access, which provides a pedestrian route from Overton Street to Alma Street.

But planning officers are recommending the application be approved.

They said given that the property lies within the settlement boundary and the proposal seeks to continue to provide a residential use (albeit of a different nature), it would be acceptable provided it complies with other relevant policies.

They said this proposal, in terms of visual impact, would not have an adverse impact on the appearance of the property or the character of the wider area.

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Officers said they appreciate properties occupied by non-family households have the potential to change the character of an area but it cannot be argued that it would lead to an over-concentration resulting in significant harm, which would justify the refusal of the application on this basis.

They said it is not considered that the proposed six-bedroom HMO would be significantly different to the existing use and whilst there is some potential for additional noise and disturbance, this would not be considered significantly harmful to warrant the refusal of the application.

They said responsibility over issues such as noise, anti-social behaviour and crime would be shared between a number of authorities including the police, the council through public health and protection and the landlord.

Officers said no additional overlooking would result from first-floor windows since no new windows/openings would be created.

On parking and highway safety, officers said despite the increase in the number of bedrooms, the parking requirements for the HMO would not differ to that of the existing dwelling and the application site is located in a street which benefits from unrestricted on-street parking and in very close proximity to a large public car park, shops, services and public transport so it is not considered that the lack of parking would give rise to significant highway safety concerns.

They said a dwelling can normally accommodate up to six persons living together as a single household without the need for planning permission so the impact of the proposed development upon highway and pedestrian safety would not warrant the refusal of the application.

They also said: “It has been highlighted that this proposal may cause some distress and anxiety amongst surrounding residents, particularly in response to potential occupiers of the HMO.

“This would not be a matter that can be controlled through the planning process. Consideration has been given to the impact of the proposal on the amenities of surrounding residents, and as the property would continue to be used for residential purposes, the proposal would not be considered significantly different to the existing use that may otherwise be detrimental to nearby occupiers.”