An independent planning inspector has backed Suffolk Coastal’s decision to take enforcement action to stop Melton’s St Audry’s House being used for holiday accommodation.
The nine-bedroom mansion has been marketed for self-catering holiday purposes since 2008 and has sparked a series of complaints from neighbouring residents about noise and general disturbance.
“This building formed part of the old St Audry’s hospital and planning permission was granted for it to be used as a family home, and indeed it was from 1999 to 2007 until it was bought by the current owner. Unfortunately, it has since been marketed for holidays and it has generated many complaints,” said Cllr Bob Snell, Chairman of Suffolk Coastal’s Development Control Committee.
“Planning permission was never sought or granted for its change of use, so there have been no official controls over the activities of those staying there. I am pleased that the inspector has backed our attempts to insist it should only be a family home.
“The appeal against our enforcement notice that required that holiday lettings to stop was made by the director of Prestige Holiday Lettings, Shelia Moore, on the grounds that its use as a holiday let was not a change of use, a claim that was swept aside by the inspector,” added Cllr Snell.
The planning inspector concluded that the current use does not fall within any definitions of planning use class C3 or C4 (houses in multiple occupation) because the occupancy frequently exceeded six people. He considered the use of the property as a holiday let, which is advertised as being available for up to 20 people, was quite different in character from that of a private family home.
A week’s booking at the property could cost as much as £4,837, and it is described as being ‘a magnificent classical 7,000sq ft Mansion House that has been superbly refurbished and equipped to a very high standard’, with accommodation arranged over three floors, and limited private parking.
The inspector, Stephen Brown, reports that Suffolk Coastal had ‘received many complaints concerning activities at the appeal property. Many of these relate in detail late night disturbances due to loud music, rowdiness or drunken behaviour outside the house and large numbers of people in the garden, sometimes until late at night or the early hours, and rowdy games within the house.
‘The houses are little different from terraced houses, and the partly enclosed courtyard spaces tend to make noise more apparent. I consider it likely that this type of activity has caused significant nuisance to occupants of houses in such close proximity. Although no statutory noise nuisance has been identified, this does not mean these activities do not cause harmful disturbance.
‘Furthermore, there are numerous complaints about the number of vehicles present, inconsiderate parking in excess of the number of available parking spaces, and about the quantity of rubbish deposited in bins.
‘I consider occupants of dwellings near the appeal property have a reasonable expectation to enjoy the amenities of this quiet residential area. Overall, I conclude that the current use of St Audry’s House causes serious harm to living conditions for occupants of nearby dwellings in terms of noise and general disturbance,’ said Mr Brown in his report.
The inspector also rejected attempts by Ms Moore to gain permission for a change of use with some restrictions on noise and the numbers staying there, as he thought there was no reasonable expectation that visitors would comply with the rules.
Prestige Holiday Lettings has been given six months to comply with the decision and stop using St Audry’s House for holiday lettings and return it to being a family home again.