Tougher planning controls for shared student homes

AFS Team·21 September 2012·3 min read
Tougher planning controls for shared student homes
Shared house landlords in Plymouth need to apply for planning permission to open new houses in multiple occupation after the council has taken on new powers. Property investors setting up a small HMO - a shared house for three to five unrelated tenants sharing cooking or washing facilities - must apply for planning permission before letting the home. The rules do not apply to small HMOs already let out, but if they switch to single lets or back to family homes, they will need to apply for permission before letting as a small HMO again. Councillors decided to take on the extra powers under article 4 of the Town and Country Planning Act after a flood of complaints from residents about student shared houses in the city about parking, rubbish on the streets and antisocial behaviour. The planning net catches new small HMOs in Stonehouse, Stoke, Peverell, Beacon Park, Pennycross, Hartley, Mannamead, Higher Compton, Efford, Lipson, Laira, Mount Gould and the East End. Councillor Brian Vincent, cabinet member for the environment, "HMOs are important as they offer homes for young people and students in particular who cannot afford to buy or rent. There needs to be a balance between the needs of long-standing residents and the number of houses in multiple occupation. "We have listened to the views of residents and landlords and, through this new regulation, will be able to take action if we believe that further houses in multiple occupation will adversely affect the balance of a neighbourhood." Plymouth is the latest in around 40 councils either with article 4 powers or going through 12-month consultation periods to take them on. Most cities using planning controls as a tool to manage small HMOs are university cities, including Southampton, Oxford, Leeds, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Manchester. Meanwhile, residents in the Charlotte Place neighbourhood of Southampton are protesting about plans to build twin 16-storey blocks to house 1,500 students.