Opposition plea over HMO plans in Northampton

Labour councillors are working to ensure the numbers of houses in multiple occupation are kept in check.
Labour councillors are working to ensure the numbers of houses in multiple occupation are kept in check.

The Labour Group will bring a motion before the council on Monday in an attempt to crack down on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in Northampton.

The motion comes as a result of landlords snapping up student lets left, right and centre since the University of Northampton submitted plans to move out of its current sites in St George’s Avenue and Boughton Green Road to a 55-acre site in Nunn Mills Road within the Waterside Enterprise Zone.

At a previous council meeting, a motion was passed calling for a review of HMO policies but now, Councillor Zoe Smith (Lab, Abington), seconded by Councillor Julie Davenport (Lab, Delapre & Briar Hill), are asking the council to review Oxford City Council as a case study and look at the benefits of adopting their approach to shared houses in a bid to crack down on nuisance, noise and fly-tipping.

Councillor Davenport said: “People feel let down because they see the council as being too ready to grant planning approval for HMOs.

“Too many HMOs lead to a breakdown in community cohesion, transience in the population, increased by harmful levels of waste left on the street, parking problems and noise nuisance. Our community feels unsupported.

“We need better intelligence about where HMOs are and the impact they are having I want to see street-by-street evidence when new applications for HMOs are being made.”

As it stands in Northampton – under the Article 4 direction – there should not be more than 15 per cent of HMOs in a 50-metre radius but residents say there are unlicensed HMOs in Far Cotton not on the council’s radar.

The Labour review would look into how the whole of the local authority area in Oxford is covered by an Article 4 directive.

Any proposal to create a new HMO in Oxford – including the change of use of any dwelling to an HMO – will only be permitted where the proportion of properties within 100 metres of street length either side of the property does not exceed 20 per cent.