Antisocial behaviour issues cause misery for residents

Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton ENGSUS00120130418113852
Arun Civic Centre, Littlehampton ENGSUS00120130418113852

Antisocial behaviour linked to a Bognor Regis house in multiple occupation has caused a ‘destructive and distressing’ relationship with neighbours, councillors heard.

Devonshire Road residents claimed loud music, fighting and intimidation had caused months of misery for those next to the property.

They urged Arun District Council’s development control committee yesterday (Wednesday, July 13) not to grant retrospective planning permission for the conversion of the dwelling to a HMO.

But the property’s letting agent refuted claims of antisocial behaviour, stating he had not been informed of complaints.

Addressing the committee, resident Steve Kettlewell said: “There has already been an over-intensive use of the site that has not only led to an unsatisfactory relationship between the dwellings but a demonstrable and destructive and distressing relationship with the residents.”

The committee heard the house had been already been converted to a HMO but the change required planning permission, as it was intended for more than seven residents.

Councillors were told of the fallback position, which could see the developer operate a smaller HMO without needing planning permission.

Officers recommended approval, claiming the change had not changed the external appearance of the property.

Other concerns, they said, such as the HMO’s facilities, were matters for environmental health and not the planning system.

Bognor Regis Town Council objected, arguing the plans were out of keeping with the area and that there was a lack of off street parking.

The committee sided with the objectors, refusing permission by a margin of six to four, with two abstentions.

But it struggled to formulate a valid planning reason to justify the refusal.

Aldwick West councillor Phil Hitchins said: “I don’t like this. I can’t think of a reason for turning it down but I am totally against this application and will be voting against it.”

Pevensey ward councillor Pat Dillon added: “I can’t see any reason (to refuse) but I am going to.”

Officers tabled the refusal reason after a short adjournment, which read: “The HMO by reason of the number of occupants and lack of parking would be out of keeping with the residential area and harmful to the character of the area.”

Speaking after the meeting letting agent Daniel Forden branded the decision ‘ridiculous’ and vowed to appeal.

He previously told the committee he had not been made aware of any antisocial behaviour complaints.