Landlords locked in a battle with Porsmouth council over its approach to shared houses have branded its recent planning decisions an ‘anti-HMO campaign’.
Trouble has been brewing the city since councillors on its planning committee began overriding the council’s own planning advice and rejecting HMO or HMO extension applications.
This came to a head recently when landlord Anthony Lane successfully appealed their rejection of his application, which has cost him £40,000 so far to pursue, despite a planning officer recommending it be approved.
Local paper The News reports that the committee told lane the property would “fail to provide a good standard of living accommodation for the occupiers and represent an over-intensive use of the site”.
Criticised But a planning inspector, who has overturned the committee’s decision, also criticised councillors for having a “disturbing lack of awareness of basic planning procedure and law’ and that the council ‘behaved unreasonably across several fronts”.
The council, which may have to reimburse Lane for this legal expenses, also faces further costs if other HMO planning application decisions are called in, it has been warned.
But the committee has doubled down, calling for new planning laws to be drawn up through its new local plan that would ban any increase in the size of an HMO with more than six bedrooms and a reduction in the proportion of shared homes allowed in the city from 10 per cent to five per cent.
Alwin Oliver (main picture), vice-chairman of the Portsmouth and District Private Landlords’ Association, believes the council has embarked on an anti-HMO campaign.
“HMOs are absolutely vital for housing students and workers in the city,” Oliver told The News. “Ironically many of the people who rely on them are employees of the city council”.
“Yet the committee is intent on squeezing smaller ones out of the city through licensing and some of the strictest planning requirements of anywhere in the county. They treat tenants and landlords like second class citizens.”
Pic credit: Josh Wright/JDPI media
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