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Newport residents ‘devastated’ as controversial HMO plans approved

Street view of 11 Jackson Place (blue door) in Newport (Pic: Google)

A HEARTFELT community campaign to stop a house being converted into a HMO has failed to persuade councillors to axe the proposal.

One neighbour told councillors the HMO plan had “devastated” residents and “caused great stress and worry”, and had put off would-be house buyers looking to move into the area.

Newport City Council received 80 objections to an application for 11 Jackson Place, and 114 people signed a petition calling on the authority to refuse planning permission.

They said a new HMO in the street would pile pressure on current on-street parking spaces, impact on neighbours’ privacy, and could possibly lead to anti-social behaviour and “social cohesion” issues.

HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) are typically properties for unrelated adults living in private bedrooms, but with shared facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and living spaces.

The Jackson Place application was brought before Newport Council’s planning committee on Wednesday (March 6) at the request of Victoria ward councillors Farzina Hussain and Gavin Horton, who shared neighbours’ concerns about the proposed HMO’s impact on parking and the character of the area.

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At the meeting, Grant Hawkins, a senior planning officer for the city council, said Jackson Place was a “well presented and maintained” street with mostly terraced homes which rely on on-street parking.

He noted the current application was for a smaller, five-bedroom HMO resubmitted with modifications after the applicant’s original six-bedroom HMO proposal was refused in late 2023.

The current proposal has an “acceptable design and appearance” according to council planning rules.

Mr Hawkins noted the “significant objection from local residents” and said their concerns about parking had been “noted”, but that council officers’ own visits to the Jackson Place area found there were an “adequate number of spaces available” within 200 metres to accommodate the three extra spaces required for the HMO.

But the meeting did hear parking at Jackson Place itself was “at 100% capacity” on evening inspections.

Mr Hawkins told the meeting residents had complained about another previous HMO nearby, but that property was deemed to have been unlicensed and was now back in use as a single-dwelling house.

The current application would have “no adverse impacts on the character, appearance or social cohesion” of the area, he added.

Many councils, including Newport, set limits on the number of HMOs in a neighbourhood, and in this case there were no other such properties within 50 metres of 11 Jackson Place.

But resident Tegan Partner challenged the council on this, arguing there were several HMOs just outside that radius but well within the 200 metres considered convenient by parking officers.

She recounted problems with crime linked to the previous HMO, adding Jackson Place was a “quiet street, safe for our children and we want to keep it that way”.

Cllr Hussain said Jackson Place residents are “all families” with young children, and the previous HMO had been linked to “many” police callouts.

Cllr Horton, meanwhile, urged the planning committee members to “vote with your hearts”.

Several committee members said they were reluctant to approve the application despite it satisfying the council’s own planning rules.

Ray Mogford told the meeting his “heart supports the residents” but the committee has “got to vote with the facts, unfortunately”.

Planning permission for the HMO was granted, subject to conditions.