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Newmarket's councillors call for crackdown on AirBnB short-stay hotels

A Newmarket Air BnB (6235559)
A Newmarket Air BnB (6235559)

Councillors have called for a crackdown on homes being turned into short -stay hotels without planning permission.

Members of Newmarket Town Council’s development and planning committee were responding to concerns from residents first raised with planning authority Forest Heath District Council more than a year ago.

Those concerns were in relation to houses split into individual rooms and being let on sites such as booking.com and Air BnB. The properties have no permanent residents with rooms in use by numerous different guests coming and going and all times of the day and often at night.

With no property owner in permanent residence, property keys are left in key boxes with entry codes made available upon booking.

Town councillors took up the concerns of one concerned resident in Mill Hill in Newmarket where a property, Mill House, was described on booking websites as a self-contained serviced apartHotel with six bedrooms and shared facilities.

Laundry bins outside the 'short-stay hotel' (6235555)
Laundry bins outside the 'short-stay hotel' (6235555)

“This is now a fully functioning short-stay hotel in the heart of a residential area which appears to have been able to set up with no planning permission,” said the resident, who did not wish to be named.

“And that presents all sorts of issues for existing residents. People come and go at all times of the day and night, commercial cleaners can also be there at any time and in the summer it can be very noisy very late into the evening.

"None of this is the fault of the guests, who book the accommodation in good faith, but my argument is why does this kind of use not appear to require planning permission. It is also a very lucrative commercial enterprise which surely should be subject to different rules than the family homes around it.”

Town councillors considered case law which upheld arguments elsewhere in the country and in Scotland that the ‘intensity of use’ ofproperties was beyond that normally associated with a single household and as a material change of use had taken place, planning permission was required.

And they agreed to ask Forest Heath to write to owners of properties being used in such a way telling them to apply forretrospective planning permission.