PLANS to increase the number of bedsits in a Southend house should be thrown out because of residents’ fears over an increase in antisocial behaviour, a councillor has said.

Labour’s Matt Dent has written to Southend Council’s planning team to express concern over the “serious harm” a larger HMO (house of multiple occupancy) could cause in Cromer Road.

It comes after a planning application was lodged in a bid to increase the number of bedsits in a property from six to seven.

The move is significant because the home has been the subject of a number of previous complaints to the council and it is the first time neighbours have the chance to object to there being an HMO in the street at all.

Six-bed HMOs do not need planning permission but any move to increase that does require the council’s consent.

Mr Dent said: “In my view, there will be considerable harm to the local amenity, in terms of noise and disturbance to the local community.

“Cromer Road is a quiet, family road, a community dynamic which would be disturbed by a high turnover HMO.

“Additionally, the increased number of residents would have a negative impact on the parking situation as only two off-street parking spaces are to be provided, which is not near enough for the possible number of residents in the property.”

Under the plans submitted to Southend Council, a seventh room will be created through the conversion of a maintenance store and cleaner’s toilet and will include an en-suite bathroom. A previous application to expand the property to have eight bedsits was refused in March after the planning team ruled there was not enough parking and the scale of the building could result in problems for neighbours due to additional noise.

The planning documents submitted by Krystal Architecture on behalf of the applicant, note that car ownership among HMO tenants is low and therefore the parking demand is unlikely to change as a result of an additional room.

Mr Dent added he has also been contacted by residents who are concerned about anti-social behaviour in the area, particularly in relation to drug dealing.

“There have been some concerns expressed that this HMO could feed into this problem but it is a matter of opinion over whether it will,” he said.

“Residents aren’t happy about the six-bedroom HMO, there is just nothing that can legally be done about it. I am sure that if it was originally required to get planning permission, residents would have objected to that too.”