Management of HMOs – Planning Committee to consider changes

Reading Borough Council Civic Offices

Planning officers were asked at the October Planning Applications committee to consider ways in which the better management of HMOs could be ensured. On Wednesday 8 February the committee will consider a report from planning officers.

The full title of the report is, ‘Conditions and Management Plan Considerations for Applications for Changes of Use from a Dwelling House to a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)’.

The request for the report arose in relation to two applications that were considered by that committee, 14 Baker Street (160997) and 4a Howard Street (161375/161376).

Expressing concerns about the impact of HMOs on the appearance of the area, Councillor Tony Page asked [at 00:36:30]

That the committee ask officers to bring forward a report that enables us to strengthen, on all future HMO applications, the conditions that are required of them so that we have  much stronger generic template that officers will give applicants in future to say this is what is required of you, and its in line with our residential conversion policy.  It is us strengthening it, recognising that the pressure on accommodation in Reading is such that HMOs will be the next new battlefront in terms of maintaining standards in the town.

A large part of Katesgrove and Redlands is covered by an Article 4 direction in relation to all HMO conversions which means that planning permission must be sought for all conversions.  In other parts of Reading conversion to a small HMO does not require planning permission.

A large HMO is one which meets the following criteria:

  • it’s at least 3 storeys high
  • at least 5 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants

The report sets out some difficulties in adding to planning conditions in this area, but concludes with an Appendix listing planning conditions and informatives.  The final informative in relation to a management plan is new. Informatives are not enforceable under the Planning Acts but are used to draw an applicants attention to relevant matters.

The NEW management plan informative sets out that a good plan would include:

  • Responsibilities and standards for the management of internal communal areas including kitchens, dining areas, living rooms and shared bathrooms;
  • Responsibilities and standards for the management of common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances. These must be maintained in good and clean decorative repair, maintained in a safe and working condition and kept reasonably clear from obstruction, e.g. banisters and handrails, stair coverings, windows, lighting, gardens and yards, walls and fences, etc.;
  • Responsibilities and standards for the management of external areas in terms of landscaping, maintenance and tidiness, in particular areas visible from the public highway or street. This will include matters relating to the erection of Satellite dishes and television aerials;
  • Responsibilities and standards for the use and tidiness of bins, bin stores, and rubbish in the use of the property along with appropriate facilities to enable the recycling of waste that meets the Council’s current practices;
  • Responsibilities and standards for the parking of cycles.
  • An undertaking to ensure all occupants/tenants will be provided with a copy of the management plan as part of their tenancy agreement or contract and the importance of complying with its measures emphasised.

Reading Borough Council already produce an HMO management pack and some readers may recognise the street on the front cover which is not far from the Whitley Pump.

Katesgrove councillor Rose Williams is a member of the Planning Applications Committee.

The presentation of the paper and discussions by the committee promise to be lively as the desire of residents and councillors for improvements to be made, may be beyond planning legislation and the enforcement possibilities of Reading Borough Council.

The committee meeting will take place at 6.30 pm on Wednesday 8 February at the Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading, RG1 2LU and is expected to be webcast.


Links

  1. Planning Applications Committee
  2. HMO management pack
  3. Government guidance on HMOs
  4. Management of HMOs under the spotlight
  5. Planning Applications Committee 12 October 2016 – papers
  6. Planning Applications Committee 12 october 2016 – webcast
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