Portsmouth HMOs: Angry councillors vow to take on government over housing numbers

ANGRY councillors are considering risking a potential £5,000 government fine to send a message that some shared homes are not welcome in Portsmouth.

By fiona.callingham1
Friday, 12th April 2019, 6:06 pm
Updated Friday, 12th April 2019, 6:51 pm
Councillors in Portsmouth are angry at the increasing spread of HMOs
Councillors in Portsmouth are angry at the increasing spread of HMOs

Councillors from all parties rallied together following the news that their appeal to block an 'unbelievable' seven-bedroom house in multiple occupancy (HMO) had been refused by a government inspector.

At a planning committee meeting this week the application for a shared home in Wisborough Road came back for approval. The Southsea house is already used a six-bed HMO and owners were seeking permission for an extra room.

But councillors felt room sizes were too small for occupants as a result and that the increase would affect the surrounding community.

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Independent Councillor Claire Udy was first to express her frustration. She said: 'Are you kidding me? What the hell?

'It does not look like it should be a seven-bed. This is unbelievable. We have already got 20 per cent on homes as HMOs in the area. What we are finding here is we have got landlords who are taking the mick out of us. Those rooms will be at least £400 a month each, but they are tiny.'

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The smallest room in the house would be 8.09m2, which is slightly bigger than the minimum of 7.5m2.

And Portsmouth council rules stipulate that no more than 10 per cent of homes can be HMOs within a 50 metre radius. However, these rules don't apply for sui generis HMOs, which was the classification sought in this case.

She added: 'We have lost this on appeal so we have just got to accept it.

'I know it was an HMO. I know this will go straight to the inspector. Why has this been brought to us, just to make us angry?'

In the inspector's ruling they said: 'I conclude on this issue that while I give significant weight to the council's guidance, the house is already in HMO use and no material change to the balance of uses in the area has occurred.

'There is no substantive evidence that the proposal has resulted in harm to the mix and balance of the community.'

This was slammed by Tory Cllr Donna Jones: 'I share a lot of Cllr Udy's frustrations,' she said. 'A stand needs to be taken to the government. This is about the impact it has on communities and parking.

'Can we refuse this today to send a message to any other developers? Although we would end up paying a fine this could be a case of a stitch in time saves nine.'

Her peer, Cllr Luke Stubbs, agreed. He said: 'This is a total rip-off of an application. We are just here to rubber-stamp a technical matter. We have all spent a lot of time on this and haven't achieved anything.'

Officers confirmed that refusing the application could lead to a fine of £5,000 or more from the planning inspector.

Councillors agreed to defer their decision in order to build up a case for refusal.