Will Sandry has criticised a Council planning decision which will see yet another HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) conversion in Oldfield, despite the controls introduced by the Lib Dems and despite the already high concentration of HMOs in the area. Furthermore, a request by Councillor Sandry for the decision to be debated and decided at a public meeting was refused, despite the application attracting over 15 public objections.
Councillor Sandry, who is the Lib Dem spokesperson on Homes and Planning, said:
“I am furious that, despite their fine words about ‘better managing the growth of HMOs’ across the city, the Conservatives are still happy to let applications through without any public consideration.”
“The Lib Dems introduced controls on HMOs and additional licensing requirements in 2013. This application just scraped through the relevant tests due to a quirk of local geography – it is on the edge of an area with a completely different character – however the decision should have been taken by the planning committee, due to the public interest.”
Councillor Shaun Stephenson-McGall added:
“The Conservatives are letting Bath residents down by failing to keep the Council’s HMO policy up to date. A review was announced in March of this year but is only now starting to get going. The current rules are being outpaced and are in dire need of strengthening and clarification. Local residents want the Council to protect neighbourhood characteristics and remaining family homes.”
Three years ago an ‘Article 4 direction’ was introduced which means in certain areas planning permission is required to convert a family home in to one occupied by multiple people who are not a family. The rules come with a two stage test relating to the percentage of HMOs within a 50 metre and 100 metre radius of the property in question. In this particular case the Stage 1 test was failed, the Stage 2 test was only passed as a result of ‘dilution’ by adjacent properties in streets without the same Neighbourhood characteristics as the site (and most of the rest of the northern part of Oldfield Ward).