Alan Whitehead has called on the Conservative Council in Southampton to toughen its proposed ‘tipping points’ for how many Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) should be allowed in the city.
The Council has just closed its consultation on what proportion of HMOs should be in different parts of the city. Currently the Council proposes setting an upper limit of 1 in 5 homes in most parts of the city being an HMO. They want to set a tougher limit of only 1 in 10 homes being an HMO only for northern city wards Portswood, Bassett and Swaythling.
This would likely curb HMO conversions in the north of Southampton, but would leave the way open for further HMO conversions in the city centre, where there are already more HMOs than anywhere else in the city.
It would also potentially leave the way open for every other part of Southampton to become as crowded with HMOs as central Southampton is currently.
Alan Whitehead has written to the Council urging them to adopt guidelines saying the density of HMOs in northern and central Southampton should not grow beyond current levels, and HMO density in the rest of the city should not rise above 10% (i.e. 1 in 10) of the total housing stock in each area.
The City Council’s consultation follows a long campaign by Dr Whitehead and local residents for Councils to be given stronger powers to regulate HMO conversions. The last Labour Government brought in such powers just before the last election, which were then shelved by the incoming Conservative government. 18 months on, the Government then brought in similar, but in certain respects watered down versions of those same powers.
Commenting on the Council’s current HMO tipping point proposals, Dr Whitehead said: “It appears bizarre for the Council to say that an HMO concentration of above 10% would be too much for northern Southampton, but double that concentration would be acceptable for every other part of the city.
“I’m particularly concerned about the Council’s plans to allow more HMO conversions in the city centre. There is a real danger that if these proposals go through unchanged, there will be a glut of HMO conversions in the city centre in a very short space of time. This would put even more pressure on local communities and make decent family housing in the area even harder to come by.
“I’ve written to the Council asking them to look again at their proposals and give every other community in Southampton the same safeguards as they are proposing to give the northern wards.”Other news from Southampton Labour