Permission to accommodate up to nine tenants in a former family home in Witney – including two in an outbuilding – has been denied.

West Oxfordshire District Council’s Lowlands Area Planning Sub-Committee decided, against the advice of planning officers, that the retrospective application for a house in Taphouse Avenue represented overdevelopment in a residential area.

Documents on the application showed the owner had bought the property in 2016 and let it out to a family before turning it into a house in multiple occupation (HMO), defined as three or more people who would not typically be from the same household sharing facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens. 

HMOs must be licensed but if there are more than six tenants, separate planning permission is also required, something the council accepted the landlord had not been aware of. 

In addition to wanting to fit seven people in the house, the landlord wanted permission to let out a converted outhouse, originally built for storage, in the garden as a living space for up to two people. 

The property currently accommodates no more than six tenants but the denial of permission means its vacant units cannot be filled legally. 

Councillor Richard Langridge (Ind, Witney North) said: “To me it is clearly an overdevelopment of the site, it cannot possibly be a logical complement and it is totally out of character. 

“I think there is certainly a harmful effect on the adjacent residents in terms of noise and disturbance, particularly from the new outbuilding. To me that is just a dwelling in the garden and therefore completely out of character. 

“My main problem with this would be the use of that outbuilding.”

Councillor Duncan Enright (Lab, Witney East) said: “This is a modest family home and this is what Taphouse Avenue was built to accommodate. Normally you associate HMOs with rather larger properties, it is really astonishing to find this one has been singled out for such treatment. 

“Despite the urgent requirement for affordable accommodation for single people in Witney, I think this is inappropriate in this location.”

Councillor Jeff Haine (Con, Milton under Wychwood) spoke in support of the recommendation to approve.

He said: “I don’t like HMOs full stop but having said that, they are lawful and they do serve a purpose.

“There are a number of people who do not have money to spend on accommodation and this sort of dwelling accommodates those people.

“There has been a number of people in that property for a recent period of time and they have clearly not caused problems to date.”

Planning permission was refused by eight councillors.