New numbers guidance for houses and flats in multiple occupation

By Bill Heaney

Helensburgh and towns and villages across Argyll and Bute have seen a big inflow of new residents in recent years.

And this is increasing as more and more personnel are arriving to bolster the already significant work force at HM Naval Base Clyde’s Faslane and Coulport establishments.

There are lots of people of all ages and mixed occupations looking for houses and flats and demand for these is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years.

Now the council’s Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee has approved new guidance to help with assessing applications for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) across Argyll and Bute.

The new, non-statutory guidance was put together following public consultation. There are four key principles:

  • Support getting the right number of HMOs in the right places;
  • Ensure they are of good quality and properly maintained;
  • Manage the impacts on local amenities; and
  • Co-ordinate the approach between planning and licensing.

For planning purposes, an HMO is a house where more than five unrelated people live together, or a flat which three or more unrelated people share. However, a licence may be required where there are more than two unrelated people living in the house or flat.

HMOs play an important part in Argyll and Bute’s housing offer, particularly for student accommodation and workers in some of our key sectors, such tourism or defence.

A planning application is needed to change use of a dwelling to an HMO and environmental health provides a licence for the premises.

The guidance makes clear what issues are considered to manage potential impacts on the local area when assessing planning applications. These include:

  • the cumulative impact on the character of the area;
  • parking – sufficiency of off-road parking;
  • the potential for increase in noise and disturbance, on an individual case and cumulative impact basis,
  • impacts on residential and/or business amenity;
  • the circumstances and requirements related to student and military personnel accommodation; and
  • management and control mechanisms of the wider impacts.

Policy Lead for Planning and Regulatory Services, Councillor David Kinniburgh, said: “There clearly is a demand for this type of housing in specific areas. Oban is fast developing as a University Town and the Maritime Change Project will see a further 1700 workers in Helensburgh and Lomond area.

“We have to make sure we do the best we can for those who wish to share homes, while still keeping the very special character of our communities.

“Concerns raised during the consultation were taken into account and addressed in the final guidance, so sincere thanks to those who took the time to respond.”

Full details on the Technical Guide on Houses in Multiple Occupation can be found on our website: http://bit.ly/2WdChy8

Baillkie Jackie 101Meanwhile, constituency MSP, Jackie Baillie, pictured left, has highlighted Scottish Labour’s commitment to progress plans to introduce rent controls in Scotland.

The announcement which set out plans for a Mary Barbour Bill was made by Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard, last week during an exchange with the First Minister.

Currently, 60,000 children in the private rented sector live in poverty. Scottish Labour’s Mary Barbour Bill will seek to cap rent increases for private sector renters ending rip-off rents and will give more security to tenants.

Jackie Baillie said:  “Private rents have been rising while wages have stagnated making it more and more difficult for renters to meet the cost of living.  It is simply unacceptable that over forty per cent of all children living in the private rented sector are now living in poverty. That equates to 60,000 children.

“It is time that private rent rises are capped and controls are put in place to end this housing crisis.  This SNP Government will have to decide whether they are on the side of breath-taking rent rises from landlords or hard-working Scots.”

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