Plans to turn a family home into a 17-room multi-occupancy house to meet demand for student accommodation have been approved.

Councillors gave the go-ahead to proposals to convert the two-storey, semi-detached property in Watford Way, Hendon, into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) during a planning committee meeting on Wednesday.

The scheme involves building a two-storey side extension, single-storey rear extension and making alterations to the roof to accommodate the 17 bedrooms. These changes had already been approved as part of a previous application by the same developer to convert the property into seven flats.

The HMO plans drew six letters of objection from the public, including claims that the scheme would not meet local housing need and would have a detrimental impact on the character of the street.

Alan Gunne-Jones, speaking on behalf of a neighbour, told the committee the intensification of the site would have a detrimental impact on neighbours’ amenity, including a shared drive providing access to bins.

Another opponent, Joann Durrant, told councillors last week that the scale of the proposed scheme was “inappropriate for the area” and would “significantly change the character of the street”, which she said was primarily made up of semi-detached family homes.

Joann added: “Seventy percent of the need for affordable homes in Barnet is for two and three-bedroom properties. This planning application clearly fails to promote this ambition. Instead, it appears to be an attempt to maximise profits rather than meet identified housing need within the local community.”

Joel Gray, a planning agent speaking on behalf of applicant Ari Sufrin, told the committee that since the council’s introduction of an Article 4 Direction to regulate unsatisfactory HMOs there had been a “dramatic fall in affordable accommodation”. This had a “significant impact on university students”, he claimed, which was exacerbated by the “ever-expanding Middlesex University”.

Joel added: “The proposal clearly reflects a small step in solving the accommodation problem, helping the borough to provide more viable, affordable accommodation of high standard.”

Under questioning from councillors, planning officers admitted the HMO was “large”, with most others in the area having four to seven bedrooms.

Elliot Simberg, a Conservative committee member, raised concerns over the size of the scheme. He claimed 17 students “could become 34” and asked how it would be policed. Officers said enforcement action would be taken if the scheme breached planning conditions, adding that not all of the rooms would necessarily be occupied by students.

After the debate, five members of the committee voted in favour of planning officers’ recommendation to approve the scheme. Cllr Simberg voted against.