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  • Andrew Waller

Hampton Lane HMO goes to appeal; another in Alma Road seeks approval

A developer who was refused planning permission for a 6-bed, new-build student HMO in Hampton Lane, behind 85 Whiteladies Road, is appealing against the decision. Submissions to the appeal must be sent in by 16 December.


Separately, planning permission is being sought by a different developer for a similar 6-bed student HMO at the rear of 78 Alma Road. Submissions close on 2 December.


The Hampton Lane proposal, submitted by Eastman Estates Ltd, was rejected in September after councillors voted 5-4 to overturn a recommendation from planning officers for approval.


The councillors' decision was notable because it used a new methodology to support a conclusion that the plan would create "an excessive level of shared, student housing within the local area". Calculations showed such housing would constitute 13% of all accommodation within 100 metres of the site if the plan went ahead. That exceeds the 10% limit set by new rules aimed at limiting the spread of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation).


At the time of the decision, the new rules were still in the final stages of drafting. They were formally adopted by Bristol City Council's cabinet on 2 November.


Local residents, community groups and ward councillors had opposed the development, saying the large number of HMOs in Cotham Hill creates a transient population, an unbalanced community and problems with noise and waste.


Some objectors also criticised the design of the building, which would occupy a back-street location with little open space.


The appeal, submitted by Aspect360 on behalf of Eastman Estates, says: "...the Appellants consider the proposed development to be entirely appropriate, without any demonstrable harm that justifies planning permission not being granted."


Acknowledging the "backland character" of the location—it says Hampton Lane is "characterised by a range of small commercial units, car parking courts and residential development" and has a "rundown appearance"—it nevertheless says there is "a genuine opportunity to create a townscape and place where people want to be."

In the case of 78 Alma Road, planning permission is sought for a 6-bed student "cluster unit" at the rear of premises used by Clifton Photographic Company. A single-storey rear extension that was previously an office and studio will be converted by adding a dormer roof to create an additional floor.


The new unit would be accessed from Melrose Place via an alleyway that runs along the back of the former Whiteladies Picture House, now Everyman Bristol.


The application is submitted by PI Davies Architectural Design on behalf of Frank Morris, a director of Clifton Photographic Company. Bristol council's Pinpoint Map shows there is already a 6-person HMO in a flat at 78 Alma Road, the application address.


Five objections have so far been lodged. One says: "Clifton Down Community Association objects to this application, due to the high concentration of existing HMOs in the area. An additional 6 bed student property would add to the imbalance in the local community, both in terms of the local demographic and term-time only occupancy."


Another objector criticises the design: "... 3 of the 6 bedrooms are lit only by roof lights. Student bedrooms are as much living spaces, and places for studying, as spaces for sleeping. Living in a room with nothing but four walls to look at and a roof light overhead is a depressing environment for a student to spend their time in ..."


The deadline for comments is 2 December.


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