New rules set to control further growth of HMOs

Landlords in Lancaster who want to convert family homes into houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) will need to submit a planning application under new rules proposed by the city council.

Many homes in the city currently benefit from permitted development rights, which allow their conversion into small HMOs - defined as accommodating 3-6 occupants - without having to apply for planning permission.

Due to their growth in number, particularly those catering for students, Lancaster City Council is looking to introduce controls to curb their future development in Lancaster and Galgate.

To complement the new rules, the council is also proposing to restrict the number of new HMOs so there are no more than 10% within a 100 metre radius. 

Advertisement controls would also prevent ‘To Let’ boards being erected in the wards of Bulk, Castle, John o’Gaunt and Scotforth West.

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Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet member with responsibility for planning policy, said: “There are wards and streets in Lancaster where the concentration of student HMOs is at such a degree that they create an imbalance in the community and affect the character of the neighbourhood. 

“Issues arise from depopulation over the summer period, noise and disturbance, pressure on refuse storage, car parking and services, as well as the detrimental visual impact caused by the display of a significant volume of ‘To Let’ boards.

“Student HMOs also removes family homes from the housing market and by constraining their further growth we will retain a good balance of affordable accommodation.

“The city council has been proactive in terms of approving purpose-built or purpose-converted student accommodation on a series of derelict and under-utilised sites in the city.  As these sites continue to come forward for student occupation, it allows us to introduce these new controls in existing residential areas.”  

Before being adopted the proposals will go through a consultation process, after which the consultation responses will be evaluated and a timetable for implementation will be agreed.

The consultation will begin on Friday February 21 and last six weeks. Further details will be published on the city council’s website and social media channels, and people are being urged to get involved and take part once it is live.

Last updated: 24 February 2020