By Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Esson
A property labelled Broadstairs’ “largest HMO” has sparked fiery debate between residents and councillors.
Neighbours of the 16-bedroom property on Luton Avenue complain of late night parties and overflowing bins, but the owner maintains it’s “one of quietest houses on the road”.
Although the building has operated as an House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO), for the past two years with the relevant license, during a packed Thanet District Council meeting, members turned the bid for the official change of use.
Resident Ritchie Wilkinson told the councillors during the session last month: “No consideration has been given to the impact of disturbance on neighbours over the last two years.
“There have been late night parties, overflowing waste bins, wheelchair uses impeded by cars parked on the pavement.
“I have had to move my children into another bedroom because of shouting and foul language from the property.
“This building is currently the largest HMO in Broadstairs. Approval will likely lead to a proliferation of similar applications.”
Cllr Kristian Bright (Lab), who represents the Viking Ward, also attended to oppose the move on behalf of residents.
“Neighbours haven’t been able to enjoy their gardens due to loud music and antisocial behaviour by the residents of this HMO,” he said.
Cllr Steve Albon (Lab) suggested the building, which consists of two houses joined by an extension in the middle, should be used for flats instead.
He said: “We’re talking 16 single people? Come on, it’s not going to be 16 single people is it, don’t they have a life these people? Don’t they have partners?”
“You could double that so you could be looking at 32 people living here.”
Cllr Jill Bayford (Con), however, backed the move, arguing: “I think HMOs are essential in providing affordable housing for people who need it including professionals, who we do need to attract to the area.”
The application attracted 66 letters of opposition and 23 letters in support on TDC’s planning portal.
Tony Michael, planning consultant and agent for developer Steven Mayhew, attended the meeting, on August 16, to argue for the proposal.
He said: “For two years the building has been in operation and there has been no enforcement action nor investigations of any kind.”
“It should not be called a HMO, this is the main problem, HMO is a term people just do not like; it is co-living, a new concept.
“It’s not young people being noisy causing problems, late night issues – this is doctors, nurses, teachers, civil servants, immigration officers, customs and excise, some sleep during the day as they work night shifts so it is quiet, the other tenants respect and know this.”
In 2021 an application was lodged for change of use into a 17 bedroom HMO, but this was knocked back due to parking fears.
Mr Michael insisted, however, that those issues “have now all been addressed,” by the reduction of numbers and the removal of a planned rear parking area.
He added that the building provides “affordable but high quality housing.”
Speaking afterwards to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) owner Mr Mayhew criticised the decision.
He said: “We have residents living in there that are on all different shift patterns and it’s one of the quietest houses on the road.”