9:26 AM, 8th September 2022, About 4 weeks ago 3
Residents in one council area are being asked to have their say on a proposed crackdown on new HMOs.
Blackburn with Darwen Council is looking to impose a ban on properties being changed into HMOs without applying for planning permission.
The process is called an ‘Article 4 Direction’ and the local authority wants to introduce the rule right across the borough.
Coun Quesir Mahmood, the council’s executive member for growth and development, said: “We are proud to be a growing borough and we want the best for our residents, including quality housing.
“In the last 12 years, we’ve seen a massive increase in HMOs in our borough from 129 to almost 400.
“Currently, we estimate that there are around 1,000 bed spaces in HMOs in Blackburn with Darwen which is far more than our neighbouring boroughs and disproportionate to our local needs.”
He added: “Due to the number of beds, it often means that people – many being incredibly vulnerable – are brought from outside of the borough to one of these HMOs and it’s putting a huge strain on services for our residents.”
Coun Mahmood explained that Article 4 Directions have proven successful in wards across the borough with HMOs only being agreed in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Now, due to the increase in HMO numbers, the council wants to roll out the restrictions to cover the whole borough.
Coun Mahmood said: “Outside of those areas with an existing Article 4 Direction in place, property owners can change what tend to be large family homes into HMOs without consent as planning permission isn’t needed.
“This new rule would stop that by requiring a planning application so the council can make a considered decision on a proposed HMO.
“It would mean we could take a much tougher stance on HMOs, which we know can be a magnet for anti-social behaviour and often are in need of improved standards.”
The council says that HMOs are ‘incredibly lucrative’ but their number is having a ‘negative impact on our borough’.
Coun Mahmood added: “We want to take action to stop that.
“The Article 4 Direction is one way we can look to crackdown, but we also need Government to act or give us new powers to address standards, licensing and the regulation of this sector.”
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