26 Jan 24

A flamboyant property in Oxford which has been the subject of a decades-long planning dispute has been removed from Airbnb by the short let portal itself.

The terraced house in North Oxford has a 25 foot fibreglass shark sticking out of its roof – the result of its flamboyant owner, cinema proprietor and radio host Bill Heine, erecting it without formal consent in 1986. The local Labour council had a six year debate with Heine over the issue, ultimately allowing it to remain although never giving it formal consent.

More recently, following Heine’s death, his son has listed it on Airbnb for between £300 and £1,000 a night, depending on the season. 

But now the property is the centre of another dispute with Oxford council now saying it has not applied for consent to turn the property from a permanent (owner occupied or long-term let) property into a temporary accommodation property for short lets.

The landmark property has been let out without a hitch for several years, but the owner received a breach notice from the council last July. He appealed but permission was refused.

The council says: “The change of use would result in the loss of a residential dwelling, in which the proposal would also fail to be regarded as meeting any of the exceptional circumstances.”  And the authority sent out an enforcement notice in November.

New owner Magnus Heine says in the local Oxford media: “I plan to fight this, and it seems so arbitrary that they have chosen me. The house has been used as an Airbnb and advertised on other platforms for five years. Why do they want to close it down now?

“The laws regarding homeowners using their homes as short-term-let(s) need to be clarified and updated as they came into force before the existence of Airbnb.”

Heine has now appealed to the planning inspectorate and is keeping then property open for short lets until the issue is considered.

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