Plans to convert a family home in a South Gloucestershire street already swamped with student digs have been thrown out despite warnings of a costly appeal. 

The extension of four-bedroom 15 Braemar Crescent was approved last year and the latest application would have turned it into an eight-bed shared home, or HMO. 

The application was finally refused on the third attempt after a previous South Gloucestershire Council panel failed to reach a decision earlier this month. 

The vote only passed after the committee scrapped a reference to a cap on larger HMOs that cannot stop the spread of unlicensed HMOs. 

Representing Filton Town Council at South Gloucestershire Council’s spatial planning committee meeting on February 21, Alan Bird said: “We encourage members to have strength in their conviction and refuse this application.

"Refusal will not only meet the wishes of the residents, it will also give them confidence that their faith in the planning process and recently adopted SPD [spatial planning document limiting the number of HMOs in a given area] has not been misplaced. 

“[It says] residential properties should not be sandwiched by HMOs. There are HMOs at 16, 18, 20, 22 and 24 Braemar Avenue, some of which should potentially be licensed. 

“Residents shouldn’t be penalised due to South Gloucestershire Council not having a register of unlicensed HMOs. 

“Harm to a community can occur when just five per cent of housing in an area become HMOs. This limit has easily been exceeded by the number of HMOs on Braemar Avenue.”

He said family homes are being turned into “student digs” but Braemar Crescent should remain a residential street. 

Representing residents, Victoria Boughey-Jones said HMOs are having a severe impact on Filton and more are being approved every month. 

“This would have an unacceptable impact on the residential amenity of the nearby properties in terms of noise, disturbance and sandwiching. The fact that some of these HMOs are unlicensed shouldn’t discount them from being considered,” she said. 

She said more than 11 per cent of the homes in the area are HMOs but case officer David Stockdale said only one per cent are licensed. He said the council does not have a register of unlicensed HMOs. 

“Licensed or unlicensed, they all have an impact on the character of the street and amenity of residents and pull on the same resources,” said Ms Boughey-Jones. 

“Braemar Crescent already has an issue with parking due to the narrow road. The increase in traffic is a huge safety concern and the noise pollution will have a profound effect on the community. It cannot be understated the impact it will have on the immediate neighbours.”

Councillor June Bamford said HMOs do cause issues but she could see no policy reason to refuse the application. She proposed approval, saying: “There are enough parking spaces. It complies with the SPD. I don’t think we’ve got any particular reason for turning this down.”

When that motion failed, Cllr Mike Drew proposed refusal because it would add to the proliferation of HMOs in the area, which would no longer function as a sustainable location or balanced community. 

The proposal fell too – deadlocked at three in favour and three against, with one abstention. 

Cllr Bamford said: “We’re just going to sit here looking at each other. A decision has to be made. We can’t walk away from here and not make a decision.”

Committee chair Colin Hunt said: “We haven’t got any other panels. We’re here, and we should be taking responsibility.”

Cllr Drew again proposed refusal on the grounds it “doesn’t respect the requirements of mixed and balanced communities” but dropped the reference to the SPD. 

Despite warnings the document would be the first thing the applicant would refer to at appeal and the council could have to pay the applicant’s costs, the application was rejected by four votes to three against.