Tory borough councillor to claim costs back... after Tory-run Northampton Borough Council refused his house plan
A councillor is applying to the local authority for costs after his ex-planning committee colleagues turned down an application of his.
Northampton Borough councillor Mohammed Aziz (Con, Spring Park) had his application to turn a three-bed family house in Military Road into a five person house of multiple occupancy (HiMO) turned down in March.
At the time, Councillor Aziz - who switched from Labour to the Conservatives with his wife in 2015 - was a member of the planning committee himself, but was not allowed to take part in the vote.
This week, Councillor Aziz has won an appeal against the decision - and now he has applied to the borough council to get his consultancy fees and loss of earnings back.
He said: “It was a very reasonable application, I had every right to appeal it.
“I’m claiming the compensation because I’m not happy with the way the planning committee is running.”
Councillor Aziz was moved off the cross-party planning committee in May.
But he said plans to turn properties into houses of multiple occupancy are often “called in” for scrutiny by local borough councillors even when they are sound in planning law.
The council’s policy on multiple occupancy homes - often rented out by students - means that in any 50-metre radius no more than 15 per cent of the properties can be HiMOs.
In the appeal decision, only two other properties were found to be HiMOs within 50 metres of Councillor Aziz’s Military Road property.
Many feel such homes can create anti-social behaviour problems in certain areas. In the Mounts, HiMOs have been blamed for some of the litter problems in the area.
But Councillor Aziz says he is comfortable suing his own council and believes there is a need for HiMOs in the town.
“We need more of them. A lot of European people come into the town as a single person looking for a single room. Students use them too and we do not have a lot of single rooms available.
And he added: “This is not just for me, this is about setting a precedent for other applications.”
Councillor Aziz says he spent at least £1,000 on planning consultants for his application and lost several months of rental income.
Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle), who called in Councillor Aziz’s application, said: “As a councillor, I keep seeing the problems that HIMOs are causing for a community and I have spoken at countless of Planning Committee meetings opposing them.
“They create parking, noise and environmental problems.
“I am shocked and disappointed that a Councillor, who is a private landlord making money from HIMOs, is suing his own council.
“It beggars belief.”