Policy to limit shared houses in Portsmouth gets approval

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A POLICY to restrict the number of shared homes has been approved by Portsmouth City Council.

Controversial planning rules now say that no more than 10 per cent of properties in a 50m radius can be houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs).

During a consultation the plans won overwhelming support from residents, who were worried about noise, rubbish and losing community spirit.

But they are opposed by many landlords and students, who have argued the policy is unfair and the problem is exaggerated.

And the Lib Dem chairman of the planning committee, Cllr Lee Hunt, has described the policy as ‘ridiculous’ because it takes houses into account even if they are only slightly within 50m.

But cabinet member for planning, Cllr Mike Hancock, said: ‘We have a problem with the number of shared houses in some areas of the city. The landlords association has estimated there will be 500 fewer student homes this year and we have to make sure those properties go back into family use. There are roads in Portsmouth where there are only four or five families left.’

Cllr Hancock said he was aware the policy made it harder for families in such areas to sell their homes, but that in some cases exceptions could be made.

He added that he was willing to work with groups such as the Portsmouth and District Private Landlords Association (PDPLA) to try to address their concerns.

Martin Silman, committee member of the PDPLA and chairman of the Portsmouth Housing Partnership, said he still thought the policy had not been thought through properly.

He said: ‘The 10 per cent figure is not valid – no-one has shown why that particular figure is justified and why a street with nine per cent density can be classed as mixed and balanced whereas one with 11 per cent should not be so.

‘It is also not needed.

‘Student numbers are dropping, actual student problems are exaggerated and the existing laws and agencies deal with those that do cause problems very effectively.’