Go ahead for communal living development in South Mimms

PUBLISHED: 06:58 11 May 2020

Clare Hall Manor has been approved for a communal living development. Picture: Google

Clare Hall Manor has been approved for a communal living development. Picture: Google


Councillors have given the go ahead to developers looking to transform a grade II listed building in South Mimms into homes for those seeking a more communal way of life.

In the past Clare Hall Manor – which dates back to the 17th century – has been used as a home, a hospital and a conference centre.

And most recently – when owned by Cancer Research UK – it has been used as meeting rooms and overnight accommodation.

But now – after standing empty for three years – developers are looking to transform it into a 38 new homes, as a ‘house of multiple occupancy’.

Residents in the property would each have their own en-suite bedroom, with a ‘tea point’ – but kitchens, dining areas, communal living rooms, a cinema and a library space will be shared, as well as a communal laundry and gardens.

The proposals for Clare Hall Manor have been likened to existing co-living developments in London – such as the Collective and Roam.

And they even include plans for a shared car club that could be used by up to 13 residents.

The plans were considered by the latest meeting of Hertsmere Borough Council’s planning committee.

According to a statement read to the meeting on behalf of Dr Cyril Ogunmakin – director of applicants Manor Co-living Limited – there are plans to invest £3 million in the development of the site.

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And typical tenants are expected to be professionals, research post-graduates with financial guarantors, down-sizing mature tenants and corporate companies renting rooms for visiting scientists.

He stressed that it would not be used as an emergency homeless hostel, and that the lowest weekly rent and service charge would be in excess of Hertsmere’s local housing allowance.

He said the development would give the site a new lease of life with no harmful impact on the character; that it would be a new chapter in the house’s history.

But councillors also heard that there had been a number of objections to the proposals from residents.

Among them were claims that the site was an ‘inappropriate location’ for the proposed development, that there were no shops and no facilities in the vicinity and that in this ‘essentially rural’ location there was a very limited bus service.

There were also concerns that the impact of the revised plans – that include 25 car parking spaces rather than the initially planned 14 – had not been re-assessed in terms of trees or highways.

And some residents had raised concerns about the number of parking spaces planned and the impact the development could have on the waste and water network.

At least one councillor likened the development proposals as being like student accommodation, rather than a ‘house of multiple occupancy’.

And that’s significant because studio flats are eligible to pay individual council tax, but an HMO is not.

There were moves to defer the decision to allow for further consideration, but this was voted down by the meeting.

And ultimately the committee backed the proposals for the change of use to an HMO and agreed to the necessary listed building consent.

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