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

The stricter rules could soon apply to the whole town, if separate proposals are approved
The stricter rules could soon apply to the whole town, if separate proposals are approved

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

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

Councillor James Hill (Con, Rectory Farm), cabinet member for planning, said: “This study has been extremely helpful in outlining the issues posed by this type of accommodation in high concentrations, and offers us some potential actions.

“We are already doing some of the key things, like ensuring our planning department works closely with colleagues in environmental health and private sector housing to manage HMOs.

“Alongside this, we have decided to consult on implementing a 10 per cent cap on dwellings within a 50-metre radius as soon as possible, in line with the recommendations.”

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.

Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer has welcomed the report and the proposed stricter measures after hearing tales of woe from people living near Waterside Campus.

He said: "For the past eighteen months I have been involved with the HMO Action Group for Far Cotton campaign with local residents and councillors to limit the amount of HMOs in Far Cotton.

"They have been oversaturated and distorting this close-knit and thriving community."

Councillor Rufia Ashraf (Lab, St James) said the impact of multiple HMO’s in an area can be "devastating, totally changing the character of a street".

She said: "There is often no thoughts by the occupants to the neighbours, or the quality of accommodation being provided.

"It is important that the 10 per cent cap is implemented as soon as possible and we hope that residents affected by HMO’s are part of the planned consultation.

"We really appreciate members of the community coming forward to the planning meetings when HMO’s are being proposed. The long term answer to HMO’s is for purpose-built single-person facilities.”