Heaton HMO’s: don’t let Labour turn the clock back!

October 2, 2011 3:43 PM

Your Lib Dem councillors DOREEN HUDDART and GREG STONE have expressed dismay at news that the council's new Labour administration are considering suspending the implementation of so-called "Article 4 designation" for shared housing (HMO's - houses in multiple occupation) in areas including Heaton.

The former Lib Dem council administration fought hard to introduce new planning policies to control the spread of HMO housing into family areas, and brought in landlord licensing and a code of conduct for "To Let" boards.

Now, Labour's councillor for "quality of life" is considering postponing for a year the Article 4 designation which would require planning permission for change of use from a standard family home into a shared rented property , and beginning consultation again from scratch. We think this would be a huge backwards step.

DOREEN says "Residents in Heaton, as well as Sandyford and Jesmond, have been very supportive of the Lib Dem efforts to introduce tighter regulation of HMOs after years of Labour standing idly by. They will not welcome any attempts by the new Labour council to dilute the current policy or to delay its implementation by restarting the consultation process. We are happy to support any proposals which toughen up the To Let rules, but will not support any proposals which weaken the planning policy on conversions. We also want to see the Labour council honour a commitment made by the Lib Dem administration to extend the policy area's coverage to include the St Gabriels streets.

Round 1 to residents but Abbeyfield battle goes on

The council's planning committee recently voted to refuse planning permission for a locally controversial scheme to convert the former Abbeyfield Society care home on Heaton Road into an HMO rented property.

DOREEN and local residents spoke against the application which was narrowly turned down, citing objections from neighbours about impact on residential amenity, and the loss of what was historically a large family home dating from the Edwardian era.

We understand that the applicant is to appeal the case to the Planning Inspectorate, which potentially has the power to overturn the decision and grant permission against the wishes of the council and residents. GREG attended a local neighbourhood meeting to discuss the situation and advise objectors on the next steps. Objectors are submitting a petition to the Planning Inspector against the scheme, and GREG and DOREEN are writing to support their case.

GREG says "It is clear that our area needs planning policies to protect against ongoing loss of family homes to HMOs, but there is a fine legal point to be argued as to this property's status, given it was most recently a care home and therefore technically an HMO. We will continue to back campaigners."