Stronger controls on HMOs?

Would you like to see stronger controls on ‘Houses of Multiple Occupation’ within Bath? Well, B&NES residents will be asked for their views on updating local planning policies in the new year, including a review of the HMO policy.

If supported by residents in a public consultation, this could lead to stronger controls on HMO growth in Bath; particularly where landlords want to increase the number of bedrooms for rent in a property by extending or altering it. 

Cabinet members will consider a report on this and other local planning policies on 10 December. If approved, public engagement on the options will start in January 2021 for 6 weeks, with a full consultation in the Spring on the draft plan.

The consultation will cover potential changes to planning policy including:

  • Amending existing HMO policy, so that it also relates to new build HMOs and change of use from a non-residential use, as well as changes of use from C3 (dwelling house) to a HMO.
  • New policy to outline criteria for determining planning applications for the intensification of existing HMOs i.e. their change of use from a small HMO (C4 use class) to a large HMO (sui generis).
  • A new Parking Standards Supplementary Planning Document, to include HMO parking.
  • Further policies on student housing blocks and development on the University campuses.

Lib Dem Councillor for Widcombe and Lyncombe ward, Alison Born, commented:

“Lib Dems are committed to listening to residents and putting them first. We hear regularly from people in Bath with concerns about HMOs and taking action on housing is one of our top priorities.

“HMOs are important in the provision of affordable housing for younger people, but we also need to ensure a mixture of housing types in the city. I’ve heard numerous examples of families who have not been able to find homes to buy or rent in Bath, due to the number of HMO properties.

“A better mix could also help protect community assets, such as schools, because the conversion of family homes to HMOs drives down demand for school places.

Cllr Alison Born

“The Lib Dems brought in the first HMO planning requirements some years ago and, if supported by the public at consultation, I would be very keen to see these stronger controls on HMO growth put in place.

“We’ll be doing everything possible to highlight the opportunity to get involved, including a webinar before the consultation starts on how to get involved. I would urge residents to take part in the consultation and help build a robust case for updating these vital policies.”