In the past, a large number of people have written to us regarding the issue of Houses in Multiple Occupation throughout Freemantle Ward, raising a number of issues and concerns on the topic.
As you may know the council will be bringing in new planning rules (called an Article 4 Direction) on 23rd March 2012, that will make it necessary for planning permission to be obtained before existing family homes can be turned into houses of multiple occupation (HMOs). These are rented properties with 3 - 6 unrelated people living there. Larger HMOs (6+ residents) have always required planning permission.
Over recent months the council has had a number of meetings with some residents associations, about having a policy to sit along side this new planning requirement, to help planners determine in which instances to give and refuse planning permission for HMOs. These meetings have been very helpful and we are grateful for all the input that has been have received from local people.
We want to bring to your attention that on 22nd December the council launched its formal consultation on the new planning policy. The details can be found online at: http://www.southampton.gov.uk/s-environment/policy/planningdocuments/hmo-spd.aspx.
If you have comments please submit these before the consultation close date, which is 5pm on 1st February.
In short the policy suggests that there should be a maximum threshold of HMOs in a given area. It is proposed that for Freemantle Ward this threshold be set at 20%. New applications for an HMO that would take the number over 20%, or in an area that already exceeds 20%, would generally be refused. The percentage threshold will apply to a 40m radius (or a minimum of the closest 10 properties) from the property in question.
In addition to this, as your local councillors, we have been fighting hard to tackle issues rightly brought to our attention by local residents:
1. Improved parking standards for HMO’s. Under the new policy, if adequate parking is not provided this will also be grounds for refusal. New parking standards for planning application for flats and houses (non HMOs) came into effect on 26th September 2011 and this should also help prevent parking problems in the area from getting much worse, as new developments are built.
2. More purpose built accommodation for students. I am pleased that Southampton University is now looking to provide more purpose built student accommodation in the city, as this will also do a great deal to protect existing family housing in Freemantle Ward.
3. Extra resources for planning enforcement. An extra planning enforcement officer will be included as part of the February council budget. Extra resources into planning enforcement will help to ensure that developers who flout planning rules are brought to task.
We would urge you to have a look at the council’s consultation and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Councillors Jeremy Moulton, Michael Ball & Brian Parnell.