The recent decision for 71 Carlisle Road, Eastbourne to be used as a 16-bedroom House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) has appalled Conservative Meads councillor Robert Smart who has called for the planning process to be halted. He had repeatedly asked for the application to be considered by the planning committee but his requests were ignored.
“The Borough Council has allowed HMOs to proliferate and this decision was made by officers without reference to councillors through the democratic process of a planning committee”, says Cllr Smart. “This, despite the fact that I had, on two occasions, specifically asked the borough’s Head of Planning to call this application in for close scrutiny.”
Many concerned residents have contacted Conservative councillors Smart and Lamb, despite a suggestion that the application was not adequately advertised.
“The December planning meeting, which could have heard this application, was cancelled for lack of business,” adds Councillor Smart who is seeking urgent answers from senior council officers, and suggests that this decision should be suspended.
Conservative councillors on the Scrutiny Committee have been seeking greater control and enforcement of the town’s HMOs for several years.
After much pressure, the council commissioned a report by outside consultants which was prepared in June 2023 but has not been released although a summary was given to the Scrutiny Committee’s December meeting. The consultant highlighted the fact that the number of licensed HMO's in Eastbourne had increased from 188 in 2015 to 318 in 2022, with many more unlicensed ones.
“Like the council's spiralling debt, this is another area of this Lib Dem-run council which appears to be out of control,” says Councillor Smart.
Conservatives have called for the council to use all powers regulating HMOs especially new powers under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act secured by the town’s MP, Caroline Ansell.