Northampton's HMO Action Group wants to see large vacant buildings converted for students

In July residents formed an action group in Northampton to prevent an influx of shared houses.
In July residents formed an action group in Northampton to prevent an influx of shared houses.

A cap on the number of Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in parts of Northampton could be tightened following a Loughborough University study.

The homes - many of which are converted for student use - have been appearing in areas such as Far Cotton near the growing new University Campus, cramming more people into streets than they were ever designed for.

Currently, the areas around the three University of Northampton campuses have rules in place that limit HMOs of any size to 15 per cent of dwellings in a 50-metre radius.

The new report recommends reducing that cap to 10 per cent, which could in time apply to the whole town if separate proposals are approved down the line.

READ MORE: Stricter cap on number of HMO houses in a given area of Northampton planned

John Bright from the HMO Action Group for Far Cotton said he is happy the group's recommendations have been included in the consultation process.

"Our group worked very closely with Councillor Julie Davenport for some of Far Cotton to become an Article 4 Direction area in July 2017 and the rest of Far Cotton and Delapre were subsequently designated with the same status in September 2018.

"However, reducing the threshold from 15 per cent to 10 per cent, which the report recommends, will further prevent an over-concentration of HMOs.

Mr Bright said the HMOs cause roads to become clogged up with parked cars and reduce the number of family homes available in an area. He also believes There is also much more waste generated from houses of multiple occupations.

The Loughborough academics analysed supply and demand of HMOs across the borough, their impact on local character, possible future growth in demand, and good practice elsewhere in the country.

John added: "We would have liked to have seen a recommendation encouraging the conversion of many large vacant buildings in the town centre into student accommodation, as some of the HMOs in our area are occupied by students due to the relocation of the university.

"We have spoken to Northampton Borough Council regarding this and we hope they may be able to facilitate it if they have the legislation available to them."

Councillor Julie Davenport (Ind, Del & Briar Hill) said she is pleased the recommendation might limit the number of houses to 10 per cent per 50-metre radius.

"It's definitely a good thing because of all the terraced houses in Far Cotton - there is a lot more houses in a smaller area.

"With the university and all of the students [residents have] had so many problems. Because it's densely populated, if you had parties going on next door - because they don't have to have soundproofing - there's lots of noise going on because a lot of the people in HMOs are young.

"They haven't got the same understanding perhaps what older people would have of their neighbours. We know we need those houses because people can't afford apartments and whole houses. We want those family homes because they are more affordable."