A GOVERNMENT inspector has backed the city council and thrown out an appeal over a rejected plan to convert a home into a house of multiple occupation (HMO).

Worcester City Council rejected a plan by Mark James to convert a home in Comer Road in Worcester into a six-bed HMO in August last year because it would breach its policy on the number of HMOs within a given area.

Mr James appealed to the government's planning inspectorate in October to overturn the rejection and award full costs but both pleas were rejected.

The city council’s policy means no more than 10 per cent of buildings within 100 metres of the site are HMOs and allowing the plan to go ahead would push the number up to 21 per cent.

The council also rejected the plan because it said squeezing in an extra three bedrooms using the existing kitchen and garage would be “excessive” and unacceptable design.

Mr James had his appeal for the awarding of full costs rejected because it could not be shown that the council had behaved unreasonably.

The government inspector said the council’s reasons for rejecting the plan were “complete, precise, specific and relevant.”

Mr James said he had been advised by council planners that converting the home would not exceed the 10 per cent limit but the government inspector said the council was not bound by informal advice.

Mr James argued the council could ignore its 10 per cent HMO policy in “exceptional circumstances” and approve plans if it could be shown the home had gathered little interest when put up for sale as a normal home.

Mr James had put forward details showing the house on the market for around nine months, but the government inspector also rejected those as not strong enough to overturn the council's decision.

Several neighbours had objected to the plan when it was put forward last year.

Objector David Lemon of Nelson Road said: "To approve this application would make a complete mockery of these regulations and also set a precedence that any property can be converted regardless of the impact to the local neighbourhood."

Shirley Reid of Comer Road said: "I am surrounded by HMOs, it must surely be over the 10 per cent legal threshold as there are no longer many families living here.

"The area cannot cope with parking as it is, we already have to park in someone else's street.

"Many HMOs bring a car each."