PLANS restricting the amount of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Worcester have been given the thumbs-up.
At a meeting of Worcester City Council’s planning committee on Thursday, August 21 members discussed a proposed scheme which will restrict any new HMOs from being set up in an area where more than 10 per cent of properties within a 100 metre radius are already occupied by multiple people.
The HMO Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is being introduced following the implementation of the council’s Article Four Direction – which requires landlords wishing to change a house from a residential dwelling to a HMO to submit a planning application – at the start of July.
Cllr Andrew Roberts said the thrust behind the scheme was to protect the living conditions of people in the city.
“The wellbeing of local people will always be most important,” he said.
HMOS are defined as properties occupied by between three and six unrelated people sharing basic amenities such as a kitchen or a bathroom and are commonly used by students, temporary workers and those on low incomes.
Although member for St Clement’s – which has the greatest concentration of HMOs in the city at 9.87 per cent – Cllr Chris Mitchell suggested the scope of the SPD should be expanded to prevent more than 10 per cent in one electoral ward rather than a 100 metre radius, members did not agree to support the idea.
But the council’s economic development and planning policy manager David Blake assured members the impact of the scheme would be monitored on a regular basis.
“If there is an effect that is unforeseen or harmful we will be able to review the process,” he said.
The other areas of Worcester with the greatest amounts of HMOs include St John’s at 9.01 per cent, the Arboretum at 4.41 per cent and Cathedral ward at 3.3 per cent.
The SPD will also only allow a change of use to a HMO where it will not result in more than two next door to each other and there is adequate provision for off-street parking.
However, an application may be permitted within areas of very high HMO concentration where it can be proven there is no demand for regular housing.
Members voted unanimously to support the plans and the document will now be voted on at the next meeting of the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, September 16.