On Thursday 2 July I met with Bryan Staff, North Ward planning officer, to discuss the proposed development of a hostel at 66 Crown Road.
Supporting documentation and consultation with residents.
Mr. Staff informed me that the applicant has submitted no documentation to support his request for planning permission other than those available on the Council’s web site. This is not unusual and has no bearing on Mr. Staff’s decision. Equally, the lack of consultation by the developer with the property’s neighbours is not ideal but is irrelevant to the Council’s assessment of the applications’ merits.
The intended residents.
Mr. Staff is aware that a number of local residents, including a governor of Orleans Infant School, have concerns about the kind of people who will be living at the property. Consequently, he spoke by telephone with the developer on Wednesday (1 July 2009). Robert Massie assured him that the development is to be occupied by young professionals and not the recently homeless, ex-offenders, etc.. However, Mr. Staff confirmed to me that this statement is not part of the formal planning application, nor is it binding on the future use of the property. He may ask Mr. Massie to commit his intentions to writing and include the letter in the file of correspondence with the application, but such a letter would not be binding nor form part of the application. Mr. Staff went on to state that the Council has no powers to restrict who resides within the borough. He specified that proximity to the infant school would not be a reason to object to the scheme as anyone could move into the area or frequent the streets leading to the school.
Overuse of site.
Mr. Staff advised me that although the application fails to make special provisions for car and cycle parking, refuse collection, and recycling, the Council has the power to stipulate particular provisions for each issue, and grant conditional approval to the scheme. Further, the rejection of the previous planning application (to convert the property into 2 flats and 2 bedsits) on the grounds of car parking and overuse of the site is irrelevant to this application. Each application is judged on its merits, and is neither bound by nor refers to previous application rulings.
He advised that he would assess matters such as the ratio of bedrooms to bathrooms [8 bedroom to 1 bathroom and 2 wcs], and the number of rooms without a window [bedrooms #2 and #5, bathroom, and kitchen and living space appear from the plans not to have windows]. As the Council does not have any established density criteria for the occupancy of residential dwellings, he stated that this property’s proposals would be judged on their own merits.
Loss of amenity.
In general, the Council’s policy is to support the reversion of commercial property to residential use, but Mr. Staff felt that the change of use from a social amenity to a private residential dwelling may not be desirable for the Borough and would have to be considered. He was unfamiliar with the details of the doctors surgery and thought that it operated only on the ground floor, with the rest of the property being unused or flats.
The number of HMOs in the borough.
Mr. Staff does not know how many HMOs operate within the borough, nor whether Robert Massie owns or manages any of them. He advised that both issues are irrelevant to his decision.
He thought that the property might require an HMO licence but wasn’t sure (the council’s own web site states that it does). Without such a licence, the property could not be let to tenants. He is not aware of a licence application for this property.
Prior to making a decision, Mr. Staff will consult the council’s
- Transport Department re parking;
- Planning Policy re the property’s role as a doctors’ surgery;
- possibly Environmental Health re the density of occupation and the quality of the property’s provisions, and
- local residents’ objections.
Under delegated powers from the Planning Committee, he has the discretion to either reject the application, or, if he recommends it for approval, send it for review by the Committee. Residents who have objected to the development will be informed of the date of the Committee’s hearing.
The idea that “young professionals” would want to live in an 8 bed hostel and share bathroom and kitchen facilities with strangers is not credible. When you were “a young professional” did you want to live in a hostel? Neither did I. A few friends and I chose to share a flat in a busier, younger, less family dominated part of inner London. I suspect today’s “young professionals” will want to do something similar. So who will live in the hostel? According to Mr. Staff, anyone can live there - Mr. Massie’s statement of intent is not binding and the Council has no power to veto its residents.
Proximity of the development to the infant school and your children is irrelevant.
Eight bedsits may house more than 8 people. Although an HMO of 8 bedsits requires a licence and a manager, he/she does not need to be resident in the property. The plans for 66 Crown Road make no provision to accommodate a manager. Mr. Massie may be the manager. He lives in Pulborough - 50 miles from St Margarets.
No parking, refuse or recycling provisions have been made in the application. The refuse / recycling mess from 8 people will cause further clutter, untidiness and a feeding frenzy for foxes.
If young professionals are the target market, it is possible that they will own cars. 8 more cars from one house will exacerbate the parking congestion in Crown Rd, Napoleon Rd, and Claremont Rd.
The rejection of the previous planning application for overuse and congestion is irrelevant. At least one local resident has expressed the opinion that the grounds for the previous rejection hold true for the current application. They do, but unless local residents communicate such objections once again to the Council, Mr. Staff and the Planning Committee will not take them into account.
- Prior to July 16th, as many local residents as possible should submit objections to Mr. Bryan Staff at firstname.lastname@example.org , telephone: 0845 612 2660.
According to the Council’s leaflet “Objecting to or supporting a planning application”, suitable grounds for objection include:
- adequacy of parking - car and cycle
- adequacy of refuse and recycling provision
- highway safety
- traffic generation
- noise and disturbance
- previous planning decisions (although this is inconsistent with Mr. Staff’s views)
You may know of other grounds for objection. Please share them here.
Local residents may also wish to refer their concerns to the only ward councillor who is not part of the Planning Committee
Liberal Democrat and Deputy Mayor of the Borough, councillor Ben Khosa.
Ben can be contacted at
- 15, Tayben Avenue, Twickenham, TW2 7RA, home phone: 0208 408 0586, email: email@example.com
- The Mayor’s Office, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, York House, Richmond Road, Twickenham TW1 3AA. Telephone: 020 8891 7123, Fax: 020 8891 7701, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
If anyone else has discussed the hostel development with the Council, I would very interested to hear their feedback.
– from Greg Hughes
The property has 3 habitable stories, and 5+ rooms to let, and shared facilities - It's an HMO.Nigel Cannings on 2009-07-03 20:20:51 +0000
Thanks for this most useful article; some comments on behalf of your ward councillors:
1: HMO = House for Multiple Occupation [a planning category]; 2: In all correspondence, please quote the Application No: 09/0703/COU; 3: the closing date is in fact Thursday July 24; 4: Cllr Philip Morgan will speak for local residents at the meeting of the planning committee [as he did for the previous application]. It would be helpful if you would send him a copy of your comments so that he is fully aware of residents' views; please don't send them to Ben Khosa, who is fully occupied in his role as Deputy Mayor. 5: Description: 'A single dwelling with rooms to let on a multiple occupancy basis with 8 rooms to let out with a communal kitchen, living room, 2 shower rooms and a bathroom. We don't require any parking permits for the property.'Chris Squire on 2009-07-04 14:12:14 +0000
Chris - thanks for your comments on behalf of our councillors. I am concerned about point 5.
'We don't require any parking permits for the property.' This is a confusing statement from which can be drawn misleading inferences.
Mr. Massie, the property's developer, will not be a resident. He will not have the right to apply for parking permits. The tenants of the hostel will have such a right, however, and will not be bound by the developer's statement of intent.
Mr. Massie has stated that the hostel's target market will be "young professionals".
8 "young professionals" will mean 8 cars. The residents will have guests, who will also have cars. This will mean far greater congestion, noise and pollution in the streets immediately surrounding this misplaced scheme.greg hughes on 2009-07-07 10:01:55 +0000
The description is taken from the application.
I think this hostel is aimed at the very cheap end of the market, i.e. transient immigrant workers who wish to save every penny to remit back home. So one can imagine a group of them having car between them to get to work, which they would indeed be entitled to leave parked on the public road overnight just as anyone else can.
I would not expect such residents to be noisy, as they would be working all hours, returning only to sleep. They would create less disturbance than their long established leisured neighbours with their late night parties and smelly barbeques.
40 years ago when I cam to East Twickenham, it was known as 'bedsit land' and was much cheaper and more mixed than it is now. So this scheme is no more than a return to the status quo ante gentrification.Chris Squire on 2009-07-07 11:04:58 +0000
The idea of 8 (or quite possibly more) people sharing one car seems ridiculous to me. This is highly unlikely. And is the above comment saying we should turn St. Margarets back into a down market district fill of overcrowded poor quality housing? Even if a condition is imposed removing the right of tenants to apply for parking permits this does not stop them parking their cars before 10am or after 4pm on weekdays (which suits anyone who drives to work). So either way this application would lead to a large increase in parking problems for people who live on Crown Road and the neighbouring streets.M J Morgan on 2009-07-08 09:06:42 +0000
I am not advocating anything: I am simply providing a wider view based on recent history. As a property owner I certainly don't want the area to go down market but this might happen for reasons now unforeseen. Houses next to the Crane, for example, might find themselves 'redlined' by the insurance companies because of the flood risk.
The new class of private landlord will, as in this case, seek new ways to make a profit from their properties by satisfying demands that other settled residents are unaware of. If they get a grip on a street and change its character, it may indeed go down market, as has happened in many university towns; I learnt last weekend that the same has happened in Milton Keynes: once mixed neighbourhoods are becoming segregated into 'respectable' neighbourhoods dominated by house proud owner occupiers and down at heel ones dominated by private landlords. The landlords have an interest in encouraging this change as it enables them to buy up property more cheaply.Chris Squire on 2009-07-09 11:20:51 +0000
You speak as though the decline back into "bedsit land" is a fait accompli and out of our control! The area does not need to "go downmarket for reasons unforeseen". The slide back to "bedsit land" can be halted if the Council listens to the voices of local residents and rejects innappropriate and poorly conceived development applications. How does a low-rent bedsit benefit our community?Paul Whiteley on 2009-07-10 12:09:24 +0000
This property now appears to be for sale throught Chase Buchanan - though they are not admitting to this on their website. What does this mean? It would be a brave person who bought it right now with its status in limbo.David bertram on 2009-08-03 05:53:47 +0000
Where is the evidence that this house is for sale? there is no stake board outside it, no picture in the CB window and nothing on their website.Chris Squire on 2009-08-07 18:18:11 +0000
There was a stakeboard at the time of writing. Otherwise, I wouldn't have posted, would I?(And I said at the time there was nothing on the website.)
Maybe it was an error by CBs board-placers.David bertram on 2009-08-09 10:03:32 +0000
I think St Margarets Residents can relax. The application has been refused under delegated powers on 10 August 2009.Gerhard Schellberg on 2009-08-11 00:56:31 +0000
Excellent news. Wonder what the owner plans to do now with their modified premises? They will get much less for it than had they sold it as a needs-work family house, plus having wasted money on the rebuild. Serves them right for their being so presumptive!David bertram on 2009-08-11 11:04:48 +0000
The Officer's Report [14 Aug 2009] has been published at: tinyurl.com/mcmkbn It states:
' . . The proposed conversion . . would result in a cramped and unsuitable form of accommodation for future occupants with little room to accommodate cycle and refuse storage. The increase in occupants on the site notwithstanding the restrictions on parking permits through a legal agreement would result in a detrimental impact of local parking conditions and the amenities enjoyed by by the occupants of adjacent residential properties.
Recommendation: refuse.'Chris Squire on 2009-08-19 14:27:34 +0000
The house is now the subject of aplanning application - 09/2698/COU for a change of use to a single family dwelling house. Sensible floorplans are part of the application, as are "current" ones showing it under the doctor's surgery layout! It's also on the market , planning permission pending, with Chase Buchanan at £735K. Looks like the developer, fingers thoroughly burned, has turned tail.David bertram on 2009-11-03 06:38:55 +0000
There is a 'sold' notice outside 66, so let us hope it signals the end of this saga.Chris Squire on 2009-12-04 18:52:57 +0000
It is back on the market again: ' . . [it] is part-way through gaining consent to be one family dwelling and . . still requires completion of the refurbishment project . . 'Chris Squire on 2010-01-01 20:09:35 +0000
Permission to reconvert to single dwelling was granted on 16 December.David bertram on 2010-01-04 06:14:48 +0000
The 'Sold' sign is back up again . .Chris Squire on 2010-01-21 18:17:17 +0000