A studio flat cannot be converted into a five-person shared home because its ceilings are too low, councillors ruled this week.

Labour councillor Tobias Sheard led the call to refuse the application, saying as a tall person he would struggle to move around two of the three proposed bedrooms.

Brighton and Hove City Council officers had recommended the planning committee grant permission for the development on the top floor of 18A Wellington Road, which included installing dormers to extend the floorspace, when they met on Wednesday, 8 May.

The applicant, M &S Property Development, whose three directors are Eskandar Sharanizadeh, 68, Maryam Taghavi Khonsari, 63, and Shayan Sharanizadeh, 27, did not attend the meeting to put their case.

Councillors were told the floor space is enough to meet requirements for minimal requirements when the roof height is taken into account.

The Argus: Tobias Sheard Coldean And Stanmer Labour 2023

Councillor Sheard described himself as a “height-gifted individual” who would struggle to walk around the bed in two of the rooms.

He said: “If you’re talking about an HMO [house of multiple occupation], having that personal private space to yourself is an invaluable asset.

“I’m extraordinarily concerned at having a three-bedroom HMO for up to five people in such cramped conditions, where you will struggle to make use of already limited floor space.”

Labour councillor Maureen Winder felt splitting the flat in two would have been more acceptable.

The Argus: Maureen Winder Hanover And Elm Grove Labour 2023

Councillor Winder said: “It feels like it’s squashing as much in as possible and taking away the standard of people’s living accommodation.

“I feel very concerned about it and whether it’s appropriate and whether it’s something we ought to be supporting for the future.”

Another Labour councillor Paul Nann said: “As a member of the short community I’m not really that worried about the sloping bits.

“I’m thinking about three households of five people experiencing that space and whether that would be a pleasant experience for them.”

Conservative councillor Carol Theobald noted the original application was for a five-bedroom HMO and backed the scheme.

She said: “We have been told three bedrooms is adequate floor space. I think a lot of HMOs are this sort of size.

“It’s very difficult, but if you’re not happy with it it’s up to you. How we’d do on appeal I don’t know.”

Green councillor Raphael Hill also voted to approve the application and would have liked more information about soundproofing.

Councillor Hill said: “My feeling is the actual amount of space is sufficient.

“There are a lot of HMOs in my ward not too far from here that have quite similar dimensions.”

Councillor Sheard proposed refusing the application due to the volume of accessible space having a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of those occupying the property, lack of ventilation and lack of light into the property.

Councillors Theobald, Hill and Jacob Allen voted for the application.

Councillors Winder, Sheard, Nann, Joy Robinson, Alison Thomson, Mark Earthey and committee chair Liz Louchran voted to refuse planning permission.