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Plans to turn Wrexham family home into HMO approved on appeal

Plans to turn a family home on the edge of Wrexham town centre into a house in multiple occupation (HMO) have been approved on appeal.

Councillors originally rejected proposals to convert the house on Salop Road into five bedsits in September because of the large number of similar properties nearby.

They said it would breach council guidelines which state the maximum amount of HMOs allowed within a 50 metre radius of any given location should be no more than ten per cent.

Permitting the application would have increased the concentration of bedsits in the area to 16 per cent.

However, their decision has now been overturned by an inspector appointed by the Welsh Government following a successful appeal.

In a report, Hywel Wyn Jones said he could find no proof of the planning committee’s claims that the scheme would have a negative social impact.

He said: “There is no substantive evidence before me to indicate that the existing presence of HMOs in this mixed-use part of the town is causing an over concentration that is affecting the social fabric or residential amenity of the community, nor that the scheme would be likely to create such problems.

“My visit did not reveal any of the physical manifestations that can arise from such developments, such as high numbers of letting signs, unkempt frontages, or household waste strewn along the street.

“As the ten per cent threshold is one provided in guidance to assist decision makers, it should not be slavishly followed as though it were an absolute limit.

“The mixed-use character of this edge of town centre location reinforces my view in this respect.

“Thus, on this main issue I conclude that the proposed use would not be harmful to the social fabric or residential amenity of the host community.”

The plans were also refused on the grounds it would cause an increase in demand for parking on the street, adding to existing problems.

While Mr Wyn Jones acknowledged there was pressure on the amount of spaces, he concluded the scheme would not give rise to an additional demand.

He added: “None of the matters raised in objection to the scheme lead me away from finding that it is acceptable.

“I shall therefore allow the appeal subject to the conditions suggested by the council and one to deal with cycle storage.”

By Liam Randall

Source: Wrexham

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New charges for houses in multiple occupation in Coventry – what it means

Action to tackle irresponsible landlords has half-succeeded at Coventry council after one of two schemes was passed by councillors.

A city-wide ‘additional licensing’ scheme was approved at full council on Tuesday, January 14, but ward-specific ‘selective licensing’ came to a halt after it was voted down to allow for further investigations.

The new additional licensing policy will focus on houses in multiple occupation (HMO).

The scheme is likely to impact a number of student homes, which the council hopes to reduce through the introduction of more purpose-built student blocks.

Under additional licensing, a landlord who has been operating an unlicensed HMO could pay £1,250 for a one-year licence; £1,055 could be charged for a one-year licence if they are not listed as part of the council’s ‘proactive enforcement regime’; £705 for a two-year licence; £640 for a five-year licence; and £545 for a renewal.

Selective licensing would have been in certain wards, although councillors voted it down after citing an upcoming selective licensing review from the government and ‘out-of-date’ data from a 2011 census which was used to determine the areas the new scheme would fall into.

In consultation, landlords also claimed it added ‘unnecessary financial burden’ and could lead to increased costs being passed onto tenants.

Both schemes were planned to hold landlords to account and help set and maintain minimum standards across the city.

Combined the schemes would have introduced fees potentially worth thousands of pounds on landlords.

Around a dozen councillors were forced to leave the meeting and not take part in the vote as they are landlords themselves.

Cabinet member responsible Cllr Tariq Khan said the selective licensing scheme will be revisited once the government’s review has been published, while his deputy Cllr David Welsh welcomed the new additional licensing.

Cllr Welsh said: “This is probably one of the biggest steps this council has taken to improve the quality of housing in many years.

“Members will be aware what HMOs have done to the quality of housing across the city and the issues they have created.

“I look forward to working with the good landlords we have in the city and I’m very aware there’s many who do take responsibility for the properties they own and manage them well.

“But this scheme will tackle those who fail to do this, people who seek to invest in the city in terms of owning a property but don’t want to be responsible for the state of the properties and the behaviour of the tenants within.

“This scheme will give the council power to put conditions on the licence in terms of the quality of accommodation and others that we have not been able to do until now. That will make a big difference.”

Additional licensing requires all owners of HMOs that are occupied by three or four tenants and all converted self-contained flats that are wholly tenanted to apply to the council for a HMO licence.

Selective licensing would have required owners of rented properties in designated areas to apply and pay for a property licence and pass a ‘fit and proper person’ test.

Additional licensing will come into force on May 4 for a period of five years.

By Tom Davis

Source: Coventry Telegraph

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HMO conversions for 3 to 6 people will require planning approval from June 2020

A citywide direction on houses in multiple occupation (HMO) will be introduced by Birmingham City Council from 8 June 2020.

The Article 4 direction will mean that planning approval is required for the conversion of a family house to an HMO accommodating between three and six people. Current planning rules only require planning approval for properties larger than this.

The direction will be supported by a proposed new planning policy set out within the Development Management in Birmingham document, which is subject to a six-week public consultation period from 9 January 2020. The consultation will close at 5pm on Friday 21st February 2020.

An existing direction for this purpose is already in force in Selly Oak, Harborne and Edgbaston and has been successful in limiting the growth of HMOs in those areas.

Ahead of the direction coming into force, landlords are being advised to declare existing HMOs to the council. Any existing HMOs declared after that date are likely to require a retrospective planning application or a certificate of lawful use, both of which will incur a charge. New HMOs created after 8 June 2020 will require a planning application.

Councillor Sharon Thompson, Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, said: “Shared accommodation or houses in multiple occupation provide an important way of meeting the city’s housing needs. However, high concentrations of HMOs can have a negative impact on the character of neighbourhoods and create unbalanced communities.

“This direction will enable the council to manage the growth of HMOs across the city more effectively as any new proposals will be assessed in line with planning policies.”

Further information about the city-wide direction and the process for declaring existing HMOs can be found at www.birmingham.gov.uk/hmoarticle4

By Kyle Moore

Source: Birmingham Updates

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Armley Park Road HMO application withdrawn

An application to convert a four-bedroomed house in Armley Park Road into a six-bedroomed house of multiple occupation (HMO) has been withdrawn, writes Keely Bannister.

According to a notice issued by Leeds City Council, the application was withdrawn following an e-mail from Michael Sunderland from DMS Architecture Ltd, who is the development’s agent.

Details of the e-mail has not been made publicly available.

Mr Carpenter lodged the application with Leeds City Council in July, with the notice to withdraw being placed in December.

The proposed development would have involved the lowering of the properties basement floor and the conversion of this space from storage into a living room and en-suite bedroom.

The ground floor living room would also have been converted into a bedroom.

As reported previously in The Dispatch, objections were lodged against the application with other residents on the street stating that the property was being “kept in a state of disrepair” and that the road is “already packed full of cars” which “packing in more renting tenants” wouldn’t improve.

Consultation was sought from the Canal and River Trust, who had no comment to make and the council’s Highways Team, who had no objection to the application, subject to a number of conditions around cycle and bin storage being met.

Source: West Leeds Dispatch