Council puts up fight to stop over-development of Houses in Multiple Occupation in Northampton

In a bid to stop the over-development of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HIMO) around Northampton Town Centre, the borough council is seeking Government backing for its local policy.

Wednesday, 26th July 2017, 4:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:16 pm
Residents are putting up a fight to stop private landlords taking over Far Cotton with Houses in Multiple Occupation.

The call for support comes after the planning inspectorate overturned council planning committee refusals on appeal, by giving the go ahead to ten out of 11 recent HIMO applications.

The number of planning applications for HIMO’s in the town has been steadily increasing, as the opening of the new University of Northampton Campus grows closer, with 13 applications being discussed by the planning committee this month alone.

Cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, councillor Tim Hadland, said: “Getting Government backing of our policy is essential to ensuring our communities and service provision are protected from the overdevelopment of HIMO’s in the town.

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“With the support of our local MP’s, we hope to establish how we can work together with other local councils and the planning inspectorate to make sure the right local, if not national, measures are being followed when considering applications of this nature.”

This has recently sparked outrage with residents in Far Cotton who claim HIMOs only benefit private landlords and not residents who live in their community.

Following on from an article on Houses in Multiple Occupancy, published by this newspaper earlier this month, residents have now formed HMO Action Group Far Cotton as the issue was reportedly becoming too big an issue for the resident’s association to deal with.

The council has enlisted the support of Andrew Lewer MP, whose constituency covers the area surrounding the new campus, and Michael Ellis MP whose constituency includes both the current campuses.

Both of these areas are popular for the development of HIMO’s and the MPs' support is important in ensuring the local policy is given due consideration when refused planning applications are appealed and reviewed by the planning inspectorate.

Northampton Borough Council says both MP’s have written to the minister of state for housing and planning and will be continuing to meet with members of their constituency to ensure that the views of local residents are taken into account as part of their campaign for more transparent planning regulations.

Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) said:“The proliferation of HIMOs in certain parts of Northampton have reached saturation point. HIMOs can cause huge litter problems and greatly increase parking pressures in a neighbourhood.

"Turning properties into HIMOs also means there is less housing available for families.

"I agree that Planning Inspectorate should give more consideration to local policy when considering appeals but we should also be asking Central Government to give us more power in stopping HIMOs in the first place.”

The council’s policy around HIMO’s includes an Interim Planning Policy Statement and wide ranging Article 4 areas, which aims to limit the density of HIMO’s in Northampton.

Under the Article 4 Direction, there should not be more than 15 per cent of HMOs in a 50-metre radius

This ultimately aims to protect the character of areas and communities while ensuring adequate provision of facilities, amenities and services, such as parking, healthcare and recycling.