Plans to control HMOs in Stevenage as numbers double

Stevenage Borough Council

Stevenage Borough Council - Credit: Archant

People who want to turn their homes into Houses of Multiple Occupation will have to seek planning permission under new measures being considered by Stevenage Borough Council.

At a meeting of the council’s executive last week, councillors discussed the need to tighten the planning regulations in response to residents’ complaints about some HMOs being a focus for anti-social behaviour, poor maintenance and parking problems.

Councillors approved a 28-day consultation on measures which would mean all new HMOs would require a formal planning application to be submitted to the council.

The council’s head of planning John Gardner said: “In no way is the council saying HMOs are a bad thing.

“They are a very important source of accommodation. There will be pressure for more HMOs as they are one of the few accommodation options open to people on low income.

“The advantage of this for us is we will know where new HMOs are which is an advantage from an environmental health point of view.

“I think it will show the public we’ve been taking what they’ve been telling us into account.”

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A report prepared by council officers states more HMOs are being created because of a fall in the numbers of people who own their own homes. It estimates ten new HMOs are being built or converted in Stevenage each year and states the council is aware of 226 HMOs in the town compared to 95 in 2007.

Council leader Sharon Taylor said she wanted to be clear there are many well managed HMOs in the town, but some ‘at the other end of the scale’.