Northampton man slams council's decision as 'undemocratic' to approve 12-bed HiMO at 'special' town property

Plans were approved by the council on the second time around despite 17 letters of complaint and objections

By Logan MacLeod
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 10:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 10:24 am

A Northampton man has criticised the council's planning process after approval was granted on appeal to convert a family home into a 12-bed house in multiple occupation (HiMO).

Developers were given the go-ahead to convert the home into a HiMO for 12 people at Langham Place, on the Barrack Road, just weeks after a similar plan for 13 people was refused.

In September, a similar plan for a HiMO was refused after complaints from local councillors and nearby residents.

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Darell Butler outside Langham Place, which is set to be converted into a 12-bed HiMO

The developers, who appealed the original refusal, put in a further application for a reduced number of residents and changes to the internal layout.

In the week before Christmas, the application was approved under delegated powers by West Northamptonshire Council.

According to the planning officer's report, the application was approved as: "The proposed development is considered acceptable in principle as it would not result in an overconcentration of similar uses within the vicinity of the site, would not harm the character and appearance of the Conservation Area, would provide adequate facilities for future occupants and would not be at risk from flooding."

Now, local resident Darrell Butler has criticised the planning process for being 'undemocratic' after he and his neighbours' objections were 'disregarded'.

The 43-year-old said: "The whole thing does seem quite peculiar.

"All of the houses along this road pretty much objected to it in one way or another. There was a whole cacophony of people saying it's not right.

"It was rejected the first time around but there were obviously tactics at play here because on second appeal it was given approval.

"It's a little bit frustrating because everyone objects and their reasons are very valid, but it seems plans all get shoved through one way or the other.

"I can understand why people are apathetic. It all feels like a box ticking exercise. WNC put it out for consultation but is not actually listening to what is being said.

"What we are not keen on is is the fact that it's going to turn into 12 different rooms. There are fly-tipping issues, anti-social behaviour issues, there's so much that goes on with HiMOs. It's not speculation. We are not being NIMBYS [which stands for Not in my Backyard]. It's just a fact."

Darrell said he thinks by granting approval to HiMOs, it could lead to problems for the town and WNC further down the line.

He said: "The council are technically not at fault here, but what WNC has done is walk into a trap, which is obviously well rehearsed.

"I would say HiMOs have the potential to become a problem in the town. It's counter intuitive to the council's strategy, it wants to raise the standards but are doing a flip reverse.

"There is no problem with redevelopment but it has to be the right type of development for the area.

"If the council turned around to developers and said they don't want HiMOs but they want two or three apartment, then that way there would be a compromise. But it's not, it's just disregarded.

"These houses should be looked after and treated in a certain way. These are one of Northampton's assets to look after, all of these period properties and listed buildings. These houses are special, they need looking after."

WNC has been contacted for comment.

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Go-ahead for HiMO in Northampton for 12 people despite earlier refusal for plans...