HMO cap could be tightened in Northampton

Published: Wednesday, 09 January 2019

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

Northampton Borough Council commissioned the study to inform its future planning policies, and is set to take action based on the resulting recommendations.

The University team 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.

In many areas, conversion from family homes to HMOs for three to six residents is allowed without planning permission (known as a permitted development right).

A direction restricting this under the General Permitted Development Order – often known as an Article 4 direction – can be used to remove the permitted right in some areas. Properties with more than six residents always need planning permission.

Northampton’s two most affected areas – around the two former University of Northampton campuses and near the new one – are subject to Article 4 directions limiting HMOs of any size to 15 per cent of dwellings in a 50-metre radius.

Cllr James Hill, Northampton Borough Council Cabinet member for planning, said: “It is extremely important that we properly understand the effect that HMOs have on the surrounding communities.

“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 Council is also continuing to build on its enforcement activity in private sector accommodation and will ensure its work toward an annual forum for stakeholders is completed.

It is also looking into the feasibility of introducing a borough-wide Article 4 Direction, though a great deal more work will be required before any decision can be made.