How HMOs in Portsmouth will be affected by new restrictions on shared housesÂ

PORTSMOUTH City Council has vowed to clamp down on houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) in the city with new rules imposed.

Wednesday, 1st August 2018, 7:09 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:07 pm

At a planning, regeneration and economic development meeting this week, it was decided that developers will no longer be able to build three or more HMOs in a row or build HMOs either side of residential homes, with retrospective changes allowed to prevent this.

There will also be steps taken in the future to ensure HMOs are properly licensed as well as creating an online register of HMOs that residents can use to check whether shared housing in their road is known to the council.

Martin Willoughby attended the meeting to comment on behalf of the East St Thomas Residents' Forum.

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He said: 'To be clear, the East St Thomas Residents' Forum is not anti-HMO. HMOs do represent an important housing option for many people including students and young professionals.

'We are all too aware that the historic absence of robust planning policy coupled with the higher commercial profitability of HMOs in places like East St Thomas, have driven their density in some of our streets to over 70 per cent.

'˜We have a large number of members who are sandwiched between large student HMOs or live adjacent to three or more HMOs in a row.

'˜All of them will tell you that there is a significant impact on their amenity, ranging from noise, anti-social behaviour, issues with waste management and parking.

'We therefore warmly welcome the proposed update to introduce the restrictions on "sandwiching" and "three-in-a-row" HMO developments. We see this as another measure to promote and protect balanced and sustainable communities.'

Former council leader Cllr Donna Jones was in favour of the restrictions. She said: 'I fully support this. It is the conclusion of a piece of work that has been going on for several months. I think it's the right and proper thing.

'The impact of sandwiching houses can be quite immense to residents and that's why I'm pleased that this action that I started when I was in your role will for forward.'

The council's head of planning, Cllr Ben Dowling, added: 'We are having an ongoing discussion about HMOs more generally in the city which is really important.'

These specific changes came following a survey of residents that was undertaken between September 2017 and February 2018.

Of the 47 responses, 77 per cent backed proposed changes to stop three or more HMOs in a row and 90 per cent were in favour of preventing '˜sandwiching.'

The restrictions will affect all HMO applications as of yesterday.

Licensing of HMOs will be more closely monitored by linking the council's licensing and planning departments to make sure all HMOs are known to both.

Officers confirmed that the online HMO register should be accessible to the public in the next few weeks.