THE city council has said its "hands were tied" over allowing a twice-rejected plan for an extension on an HMO to go ahead and did not advise a developer on ways to sneak round failing to get planning permission.

The plan to allow an extension to a house of multiple occupation (HMO) on a congested street in St John’s could still be allowed to go ahead after Worcester City Council granted developer Bob Panesar a ‘lawful development certificate’ which confirmed planning permission was not required, and the work could be carried out lawfully.

Councillor Alan Amos had asked whether the council's planning department had been complicit in the "sleight of hand behaviour" and why councillors were not being made aware of decisions the planning committee getting overturned.

Planning chief Alan Coleman said the council’s planning department had not talked Mr Panesar through getting a lawful development certificate as another way round having the plan rejected by the council’s planning committee and government inspector.

Mr Coleman said the council’s “hands were tied” to give the lawful development certificate, during a meeting of the council's planning committee on Thursday (January 23).

The council’s planning committee and the government’s planning inspectorate both rejected the application for a side and rear extension to allow for the existing five-bed HMO to be made into a six-bed HMO in Bozward Street over parking and congestion fears.

The legal documents are not formal planning applications but allows the council to consider whether planning permission would or would not be required.

Developer Bob Panesar said the home is already an HMO and the extension would fall within its permitted development rights - certain types of building work that does not require planning permission from the council.

The plan was rejected by councillors in February last year after it was called in by Councillor Richard Udall over the impact it would potentially have on neighbours and parking in the street.

There were concerns that creating more rooms in the HMO would make parking in the already-congested Bozward Street worse.

The council’s planning committee rejected the plan, despite the council’s planning department recommending it should be approved, and then refused it again a month later.

Mr Panesar appealed to the government’s planning inspectorate to reverse the decision but was unsuccessful.

Highways bosses at Worcestershire County Council raised no objections to any of the plans.

The report published by inspector JM Tweddle in July said allowing the extra room in the HMO would make parking worse on the street and threw out the appeal.

The report said: “It is clear that the current off-street parking arrangement is deficient and cannot contribute towards the required provision.

“The proposal would increase the pressure for on-street parking and exacerbate the inconvenience faced by local residents when trying to find a parking space on the street.

“The increased demand may also lead to indiscriminate parking that could block driveways and further add to the parking difficulties faced by residents.”