Green light given for 22-bed HMO on land behind Coniston Road shops

Visualisation of the "street scene" at a proposed housing development.
Visualisation of the “street scene” at a proposed development of four Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) off Coniston Road, Patchway.

Officers at South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) have given the green light to a controversial planning application for the erection of a large block of flats in gardens behind a row of shops on Coniston Road, near Patchway Roundabout.

The gardens are said to be in a “neglected” state, having been “unutilised since at least the early 1990s” and are described in the officer report as “open scrubland”.

The proposed development comprises four separate ‘house in multiple occupation’ (HMO) dwellings, two having five bedrooms each and two with six bedrooms each, giving a total occupancy of 22 residents. The five-bedroom units are located on the ground floor, while the six-bedroom units are on the first floor and in the attic.

Above: Site boundary plan. Click icon in top right corner to enlarge.

Access to the site will be from the turning circle located adjacent to no. 2 Coniston Road (New Style barber shop).

Parking will be provided for 13 vehicles, which exceeds the council’s policy requirement of 11 spaces for a development of this type and size.

Seven of the 12 individual trees currently standing on the site will be removed to facilitate the development, with ten replacements being planted in mitigation.

A 2m high close-boarded fence will be installed along the north-east boundary of the site to give added protection against noise from the nearby railway.

Site plan.
Site plan of the proposed development.

View a hi-res version of the above plan as a PDF file [313kB] or JPEG file [638kB] (on Dropbox).

The applicant’s planning statement makes it clear that the residential units are foreseen for use as student accommodation, in particular for those attending the University of the West of England (UWE). The statement references a recent BBC News report that UWE students are having to be housed at halls in Newport (Wales) because the Bristol university has “run out of accommodation”.

Although South Gloucestershire Council recently adopted a new supplementary planning document (SPD) designed to limit the over-concentration of HMOs, this is only applicable to conversions of existing properties. However, officials concluded that even if the proposed development were a conversion, it would be acceptable as it would not result in the HMO density in the immediate vicinity or wider neighbourhood exceeding the thresholds defined in the SPD.

Advertising image.

Objection overruled

Patchway Town Council objected to the application on the grounds of over-development and concerns over car parking:

“Patchway Town Council has unanimously agreed to raise objections to the above application. This is due to issues around site massing and over-development in the location. We also have concerns with car parking for residents as well as access to neighbouring businesses which could lead to trading concerns.”

“We are also concerned with tree preservation, specifically the Memorial Tree on the edge of the proposed development.”


SGC’s planning officers dismissed the suggestion of over-development as follows:

“The building has a footprint of 234m2 within a site that measures just over 1000m2. Although the building would fill the site widthways due to the narrowness of the plot, it would not appear overly cramped and provides sufficient provisions for its occupants. The proposal is not considered to constitute overdevelopment of the site.”

Regarding parking, officers responded:

“Although [the turning area] is used informally for parking, this is largely located on double yellow lines. The displacement of these vehicles is not considered to cause harm to the highway network as the wider area does not generally struggle for parking.”

Related link: Planning application P22/06440/F (SGC)

In-house promotional image.

Application to increase number of bedsits

UPDATE added 22nd May 2023.

The applicant has submitted a ‘non-material amendment’ (NMA) planning application to revise the description of the approved development to:

“Erection of detached building comprising 2no. 5-bedroom small houses in multiple occupation (Use Class C4) at ground floor level, and 2no. 7-bedroom large houses in multiple occupation (sui generis) at first and roof floor level, with new access and parking.”

The reasons for the NMA application are said to be two-fold. The first is to seek clarity on the description of development. The second is to enable a concurrent S73 application to revise the approved plans, and to allocate the ‘study rooms’ on the second floors as additional bedrooms. The total number of bedsits would thereby be increased from 22 to 24.

No additional parking spaces are proposed.

Related link: Planning application P23/01593/NMA (SGC)