Agenda item

Alternative Referral of Service Committee Decision - Article 4 Directions


The Head of Planning and Development introduced the briefing note and referred to the urgent update provided. The table within the briefing note included all of the definitions pertaining to Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO), and it was noted that the Council had previously focused on licensed HMOs.


The Committee were advised that if it felt that harm was being caused by HMOs, and that this harm could be evidenced, the four recommendations within the briefing note would be applicable. The recommendations were outlined, with reference made to the strengthening of the design quality criteria for HMOs, as the Council had adopted Kent County Council’s parking standards which permitted minimal parking facilities. These parking standards contributed in part to the approval of HMO planning applications. DM23 was the policy relating to parking standards.


Councillors Harper and M Rose addressed the Committee as Visiting Members, as two of the Councillors that had submitted the Original Referral, attached at Appendix 2 to the briefing note.


Councillor Holmes addressed the Committee as a Visiting Member as one of the Councillors that had submitted the Alternative Referral, attached at Appendix 1 to the briefing note.


Several Members of the Committee referenced the contributing factors to the original decision made. This included that the Council’s current policies applicable to an HMO planning application’s consideration were inadequate and the importance of developing suitable policies, such as the Town Centre Strategy and Design and Sustainability Development Plan Document (DPD), to provide an effective mechanism to review those applications.


In response to questions, the Head of Planning and Development stated that the Design and Sustainability DPD would take several years to produce, as supporting evidence was required alongside a public consultation and examination. 


In line with the updated information provided, the options as outlined in the briefing note were felt to be necessary and suitable, with the threshold to be raised to 10% to adequately address those concerns across a wider geographical area. It was requested that in reviewing DM23 as part of the Design and Sustainability DPD’s creation, any other related policies also be reviewed.


In response to several Members having expressed support for improved housing standards, the Head of Planning and Development stated that licensing HMOs allowed for a higher standard of facilities to be achieved within those properties.


RESOLVED: That the Lead Member(s) for the relevant portfolio(s) be recommended to:


1.  Take forward the “Design and Sustainability” Development Plan Document to include a review of DM23 and any other relevant policies, and once adopted seeks to bring in Article 4 Directions on a street-by-street basis, once Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) prevalence reaches the evidenced threshold of 10%;


2.  Take forward a review of residents’ parking entitlement for either all HMO residents or just residents of new HMOs created after;


3.  Explore the possibility and merits of creating a formalised licensing arrangements for all HMOs; and


4.  Take forward an exploration of referring all HMO properties to the Valuation Office for revaluation, based on their net rental income (as an HMO), rather than their valuation as a single self-contained dwelling, as is currently the case.











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