Family homes in Thornton Heath are being carved up and turned into ‘boutique co-living spaces for urban professionals’  despite new rules which were meant to protect them. 

Over 30 residents have objected to an application to turn a three bedroom semi detached house at 7 Brook Road from a six to eight licensed House of Multiple Occupancy. Only a month a go permission was given for it to become a six bedroom HMO.

In the last few months the applicant Roland Symonds who is  based in Balham and runs Sanctum Properties Ltd has applied to increase the number of occupants at four HMOs he is operating in Thornton Heath at 93 Melfort Road, 22 Beulah Road, 17 Foulsham Road and now Brook Road from  six to eight.

This beats the January 28 deadline for new rules on HMOs but applications to increase the size size of a HMO wouldn’t fall under Article 4 so there is no requirement for change of use class (C3 to C4).

The properties are all similar in size and were purchased for £400-450,000.

In all cases permission was granted by the council despite 12 objections against the Melfort Road expansion and two opposing the Foulsham application.


Mr Symonds says he is a property developer/investor on his Instagram account where he describes his HMOs as ’boutique co-living for urban professionals’ offering “Design-led. High-spec. Hassle-free. Co-living as it ought to be.”

He brands the kitchen as the  ‘hub’ where you can ‘eat, work or just hang out’ and occupants live in ‘pods’ aka a bedroom  which is their  “private sanctuary, inspired by boutique hotel rooms. Beautifully designed with thoughtful touches throughout, our Pods marry form and function. This is your space to relax, recharge and refresh.”

The developer only got a six person HMO license for the Brook Road address on December 31 say objectors and as far back as September when he purchased the property according to his Instagram it was going to be an ‘eight beds and eight en suites’. On January 24 he applied to Croydon for it to increase from six to eight.

The Brook Road application includes a ‘marketing brochure’ from a company called Platinum Property Partners based in Bournemouth which describes itself as the world’s first property investment company which has 370 franchise partners who have taken stakes in 1,100 properties. 

In the planning statement it says the:  “ In many areas there is great concern about the effect HMO’s have on the local community, which can be caused by density of that type of housing, noise and anti-social behaviour from tenants.  “The applicant believes that this is caused by the choice and standard of property. By providing a high-quality residence aimed at working professionals this problem simply does not exist. At other eight-person Croydon HMOs owned and managed by the applicant, no issues have arisen with the neighbours to date.”

It adds that subsequent change of use from C3 to C4 was also undergone under Permitted Development and as a result the property has been operating successfully as an HMO which is disputed by Brook Road residents it hasn’t yet been occupied.