HMO changes will now require planning permission in Northampton

Landlords wanting to change their properties into homes for multiple people will be required to apply for planning permission from later this year.

Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 7:58 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 7:59 am
Cabinet agreed to the new planning rules when it met last week

Currently, landlords do not have to apply for planning permission in order to change the use of a ‘dwellinghouse’ to a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in most areas of Northampton. But a recent cabinet decision means that such applications for HMOs between three to six people will now be required from November 13.

The council had already imposed these rules in some parts of Northampton including Kingsthorpe, Abington, Far Cotton, Delapre and Cliftonville. But the new policy – known as an Article 4 direction – will now cover the rest of the borough.

A report, seen by members of Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet, states: “HMOs play an important role in providing affordable accommodation for a range of people including students, migrant workers, key workers, young professionals and transient workers.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“However, several issues have been identified particularly in areas with high concentration of HMOs. These have been reinforced in a study on HMOs which was undertaken by Loughborough University in 2018 to provide evidence for the local plan.

“These include general poor upkeep and maintenance of private rented housing and dilapidation of housing stock and facades. And more specifically, issues such as unkempt gardens, fly tipping, noise, anti-social behaviour and streets crammed with parked cars were highlighted.”

The council acknowledged however that the ‘key problem’ was not HMOs themselves, but the concentration of them. Current council policy sets a threshold of ten per cent of homes within a 50m radius being HMOs as the maximum amount allowed.

Speaking at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday (March 4), where members agreed to the proposals, deputy cabinet member for planning Councillor James Hill said: “This is a very welcome report and we are looking forward to this being implemented. Consultation took place over November and December and people were supportive.”

Labour councillor Arthur McCutcheon questioned whether new housing estates would be added in the future, with Councillor Hill saying it would ‘be a matter for the new unitary council’.

The following wards will now be covered by the new Article 4 direction: Billing, Boothville, Brookside, Castle, Delapre Briar Hill, East Hunsbury, Eastfield, Headlands, Kings Heath, Kingsley, Nene Valley, New Duston, Obelisk, Old Duston, Park, Parklands, Phippsville, Rectory Farm, Riverside, Rushmills, Spencer, St James, Talavera, Upton, West Hunsbury, and Westone.