Fewer HMOs to be allowed within concentrated areas in Northampton after policy change

A new planning policy will see fewer Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) allowed within a 50 metre radius of each other in Northampton.

Friday, 15th November 2019, 6:41 am
Updated Friday, 15th November 2019, 6:42 am
The planning policy change has been approved at The Guildhall

Northampton Borough Council has agreed to lower the threshold after the move was agreed by the cabinet last night (November 13).

HMOs can act as accommodation for students, workers on low incomes and residents who prefer to rent.

But the concentration of these kinds of homes in certain areas, and the lack of them in others, sparked Northampton Borough Council to instigate research by Loughborough University. Following the completion of that study, a new supplementary planning document (SPD) was put out to consultation, and proposed to reduce the saturation threshold.

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Before last night, the council’s planning committee could refuse a HMO planning application if more than 15 per cent of properties within a 50 metre radius were already HMOs. One of the key principals of the new document is to reduce that figure to 10 per cent.

It also sets out the requirements for the provision of adequate parking for HMOs. This will ensure that there will be no ‘unacceptable adverse impacts on on-street parking and highway safety in the vicinity’.

Applications for HMOs cannot be turned down on parking grounds, even if the county’s highways team objects to the application. But inspectors may look more favourably on the council’s decision to refuse if the SPD has a clear stance on parking.

There is currently no need for landlords across large parts of the town to get planning permission to convert properties into HMOs, where they house up to six unrelated people. But several parts of Northampton, including the town centre and Far Cotton, are currently covered by Article 4 Directions which mean all HMO conversions must be supported by planning permission.

Although only eight people responded to the consultation between August and October, the cabinet agreed to adopt the new planning document last night.

Labour councillor Arthur McCutcheon said: “It’s going to require a lot of joined up thinking to get this right. But overall this is a good report and is to be welcomed.”

Labour leader Councillor Danielle Stone added: “This is a step forward and it’s been a long time coming.”

Cabinet member for planning, Councillor James Hill, responded: “We are trying to encourage good HMOs and increase standards and hopefully that will happen as a result of this.”