HMOs in Swansea

Labour-led council behind plan to balance HMO numbers in Swansea

Swansea Labour is fully behind a plan to keep houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) in the city to manageable and sensible levels.

As well as the Labour-led Swansea Council, landlords, universities and community groups are helping to develop new guidance to limit the number of HMOs.

The council is in the process of drafting Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) which will be used as a template for future planning applications for HMOs in the city.

Before the guidance is fully adopted, the Council is keen to take into consideration the views of interested groups.

“HMOs provide a significant service to the private housing rental sector in Swansea,” said Andrea Lewis, Cabinet Member for Housing, Energy and Building Services.

“They are used not only by students in, what after all, is a university city but also by other individuals and families who have not bought their own property.

“But we also need to recognise that the council needs extra powers to ensure that the number and density of HMOs does not risk overwhelming the communities in which they exist.

“Supplementary Planning Guidance will give us the extra powers we need to do this. But any guidance we introduce must be evidence based to ensure it is able to stand up to appeal by applicants who may have proposals turned down.

“This fresh round of information-gathering and consultation will involve communities across Swansea and the council will do all it can to ensure the process is open, transparent and accessible to everyone who wants to participate.”

Draft planning guidance was previously presented to the Council’s Planning Committee for approval, which proposed to restrict HMOs in parts of Uplands and Castle wards that already have high concentrations of HMOs to a 25% limit. The guidance also proposed a 10% level for other parts of the city.

The committee resolved however not to move forward with the recommendation to approve the SPG and instead to look at considering other concentration levels, including the impact of having a lower level of 15% in the south of Uplands.

A full public consultation will be held once the draft SPG has been completed and the Council hopes to adopt the new guidance in the Spring of 2018.

Cllr Lewis added: “No decisions will be made until councillors have had the chance to see what residents, landlords and HMO householders think.”

There are approximately 2,000 HMOs in Swansea with more than 1,600 in Uplands and Castle. A majority of those provide accommodation for thousands of students that live and study in Swansea.

But as well as students HMOs also provide accommodation for other shared users such as young people living independently for the first time, and those on low incomes who are sometimes unable to afford to buy or rent family homes.

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