Lib Dem Councillors in B&NES have called for consideration to be given to additional controls on the development of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and purpose built student accommodation in Bath and North East Somerset.
A motion on the issue was put before a meeting of B&NES Council by Councillor Cherry Beath, following recent concerns linked to the growth in future numbers of students and the lack of availability of land for purpose build accommodation.
Now it has been confirmed that a forthcoming review will look at introducing new controls over development sites upon which student blocks can be built, extending HMO controls to new areas, and amending thresholds at which permission for further HMOs in a street would be refused.
Councillor Cherry Beath (Combe Down, Lib Dem) commented:
“Our motion sought to give Council the opportunity to debate this important issue and this has been very useful. At its heart this issue is about balancing the availability of housing for the different groups of people who want to live in Bath and North East Somerset.”
“On the one hand we recognise that Bath’s Universities make an enormous contribution to our economy, employment and culture and it’s wonderful that so many students want to come to study in Bath. It’s also important to remember that HMOs are an important source of affordable housing for many people who are not students.”
“However, on the other hand, we have to face up to rising concerns about whether our communities can accommodate growth in student numbers and consider whether we should do more to control the density of HMOs, the sites which can be developed for purpose-built blocks and the quality of accommodation available.”
“I welcome the administration’s willingness to investigate this issue thoroughly and I call on them to do so in a transparent way, involving the community, Universities, and all interested parties.”
Councillor Will Sandry (Oldfield, Lib Dem), who seconded the motion to Council, added:
“Higher education is our biggest local industry, so of course we want the Universities and the College to succeed."
“However we have to be aware of the competing demands of growing student numbers and other young people who need housing.”
“Purpose built student accommodation is a useful option for many students, but I feel it should not be placed in areas with an already high concentration of HMOs, as this will add even more pressure on residential amenity and services.”