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09/02/2018

Appeal: No room to get dressed in toilet-to-studio flat conversion

Words:
Cranbury Place / Rovert RN

An inspector has blocked plans to convert the toilet room of a listed Southampton home into a studio flat, because it would have one-fifth of the floor space required by national standards.

The appeal relates to a 19th century grade II listed house that forms part of a terrace within the Cranbury Place conservation area. The appellant sought permission to convert one of the house’s rooms, a “toilet/store at half landing level”, into a studio flat, to be let to students or homeless people. It would be formed of a “living and sleeping area with cooking facilities”, with “built-in storage and an en-suite shower room”.

Inspector Joanna Reid noted that according to government guidance on technical space standards, the minimum internal floor area for this type of development is 37 square metres. The proposal would offer a quarter of that floor space. Southampton City Council also submitted that the minimum size of accommodation it would offer to those on its housing waiting list would have a floor area of 45 sq m. The proposal would be only one-fifth of that size.

As a result of its “very small size”, Reid noted, the only space in the living area where the occupier could stand up on the floor, clear of the entrance door, would be “too constrained for day-to-day activities such as getting dressed”. There would be little space for any visitor to stand or sit, nor would there be any storage space for “all but the bare essentials”. Furthermore, the only window in the living area would face north, rarely receiving any sunlight. As a result, the occupier could feel “hemmed in and isolated”.

The appellant referred the inspector to local demand for students and homeless people in support of his application. Notwithstanding this, Reid stated, “the spatial needs of students and homeless people are little different to those of anyone else”.

In her conclusion, Reid found that the studio flat would be “unacceptably small and harmfully cramped”. The appellant had also failed to make a financial contribution to the Solent disturbance mitigation project, contrary to local policy. For these reasons, she dismissed the appeal.

The inspector’s report – case reference 3184555 – can be read here.

Image credit | Rovert RN

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