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Crackdown on student flats gets the nod
A CRACKDOWN on new student flats in Worcester has been approved by council planning chiefs – with politicians saying it will “significantly” boost the city.
The planning committee has backed plans to amend rules so landlords seeking to turn a house into student accommodation must apply for a ‘change of use’ first.
It will also apply to homeowners who rent their property out to three or more tenants, known as HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupation).
During a debate at the Guildhall, head of planning Paul O’Connor said it would help avoid the character of whole swathes of the city changing beyond recognition. “This goes to the heart of planning, where people expect peace, where gardens are used appropriately, where there is the expectation of a parking space,” he said. “This debate is about how too many HMOs impinge on the character of a street – there is evidence to suggest it leads to more noise, more disturbances, more activity, which leads to a difference in character and erosion of amenity.”
During the debate councillors widely backed the rule change, with some saying too many HMOs and student flats were slowly eating into the number of family properties. The ruling is designed to space them out, so that students do not stick to areas like St John’s and the Arboretum.
Councillor Chris Cawthorne said: “On a daily basis I see what should be family homes taken out of the housing stock, and we can’t afford it to carry on.” Councillor Derek Prodger said: “When houses become occupied by students the amenity of an area is changed immediately. You get six students, all with cars trying to park in four spaces, then they tell their friends to come round and you’ve got 12 cars on your doorstep.”
Councillor Lynn Denham said: “I support the principles of the policy, but some of the assumptions being made are not correct – we need to be careful how we talk about students. Students in our city are tomorrow’s primary school teachers and nurses.”
The ruling Conservative cabinet will be asked to agree it on February 12, which will then lead to a four-week consultation. It will come into force from the summer of 2014.