(Councillor Murphy did not participate in the vote on this item as he had not been present for the duration of the officer’s presentation when it had been presented previously, on 15th December, 2020.)
The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting of 15th December, 2020, it had agreed to defer consideration of the application to request that DfI Roads would carry out a site visit to observe traffic and for representatives to attend the next Meeting. She explained that Mr. G. Lawther, DFI Roads, was in attendance.
The Principal Planning officer reminded the Committee of the details of the application for a change of use from a single dwelling to a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). She explained that DfI Roads had since stated the following with regards to the assessment of the application:
· in assessing development applications proposing Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO), DFI was informed by the HMO Subject Plan for the Belfast City Council Area 2015. Whilst the various policy requirements of the Subject Plan sought to encourage regeneration, address need and demand, and also protect against residential amenity, it was noted that the provision of car parking was not a requirement of the assessment process;
· Existing Regional Planning Policy and supplementary planning guidance, including the published ‘Parking Standards’, did not incorporate car parking as a requirement for HMO development.
· in light of the above, DfI Roads position was unchanged, it had raised no objection to the proposal and it had confirmed that it did not intend to carry out a site visit.
The Committee was advised that five representations and a signed petition had been received in opposition to the application, raising issues including antisocial behaviour, lack of parking, dirt/smell, not informed as direct neighbours and a lack of family housing provision.
She explained that DFI Roads and Environmental Health had been consulted on the application and had no objections.
In respect of the principle of the proposal at this location, the Principal Planning officer outlined that the application site fell within an HMO Development Node HM 4/07 Falls Road/Springfield Road, as designated within the HMO Subject Plan for Belfast (2015). She reported that Policy HM0 3 stated that planning permission would only be granted along the frontages of designated HMO Development Nodes, providing it did not include HMO development at ground floor level within a designated commercial node or shopping area. She clarified that the proposal was situated within the frontage of a designated HMO Development Node, and was also in line with Policy HMO 6, as the criteria within the policy was either met or was not relevant.
A Member expressed concerns and stated that she did not feel that the Committee had all of the relevant information, particularly regarding how PPS3 had been assessed, how they worked alongside the HMO Subject Plan, and how DFI Roads had made its assessment in respect of the application.
The Principal Planning officer explained that the HMO Subject Plan did not set out any standards for parking and, while PPS3 set out general requirements for development, there was nothing specific in the parking standards relating to HMO development and that, therefore, you could not apply a standard which did not exist. She acknowledged that there was a gap in terms of assessments of HMOs, but that they could not demand parking from an applicant when there was no standard.
Mr. Lawther added that there was no target or policy to meet in terms of parking standards for HMOs.
The Member queried how officers could be satisfied that the application had been adequately assessed against PPS3 if there was no mechanism for assessing such an application against it.
The Director of Planning and Building Control clarified to the Committee that the highways implications are assessed against the PPS 3 requirements by DFI Roads. He added that DFI Roads had advised that it had carried out a desktop analysis of the impact of the application and that it did not warrant a site visit, given that it was a small scale development.
Accordingly, the Chairperson put the officer’s recommendation to approve the application to the Committee, with delegated authority granted to the Director of Planning and Building Control to finalise the wording of conditions subject to no new substantive planning issues being raised by third parties.
On a vote, no Members voted for the proposal, four against and nine no votes, and it was accordingly declared lost.
As there were no counter proposals, the Divisional Solicitor and the Director of Planning and Building Control advised the Committee that it might be helpful for the Committee to defer the application so that further information could be provided to the Committee in relation to PPS3 and the policy position in respect of HMO applications.
In response to a Member’s query as to whether the Committee could request that DFI Roads would undertake a comprehensive review of parking standards, the Divisional Solicitor advised the Committee that it would take some months for DFI Roads to carry out such a review. She explained that the Committee could request that DFI would review the standards, but to note that it would not be undertaken it by the time the application was brought back to the Committee.
Moved by Councillor Garrett
Seconded by Councillor Hussey and
Resolved – that the Committee agrees to:
· defer consideration of the application to enable further information to be provided in respect of PPS3 and the policy position in terms of HMOs; and
· that DFI Roads be formally requested to undertake a site visit in respect of the application; and
· to separately write to DFI Roads, requesting that they undertake a comprehensive review of parking standards in due course.