Plans to severely restrict the number of new shared houses in two popular student areas of Cardiff will be decided this week.
Cardiff Council is set to vote on the proposed Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) that will severely restrict new houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the city, particularly in Cathays and Plasnewydd.
The council put forward the proposal for arbitrary HMO thresholds claiming there is currently ‘a disproportionate number’ of HMOs in the city.
Landlords will be refused planning permission to create a new HMO if there is already a certain density of similar homes in the area under the plans.
The threshold for Cathays and Plasnewyedd is 20 percent and in all other wards 10 percent. Any properties falling within a 50m radius of the proposed new HMO will be considered when making the decision. If more than 20% are already licensed HMOs, then it would be considered unacceptable.
The Residential Landlords Association is arguing vehemently against the proposals, with the support of Cardiff Students’ Union.
Douglas Haig, RLA Director and Vice-Chairman for Wales said: “This policy is discriminatory and attacks those on lower incomes and some of the most vulnerable in society. HMOs provide more affordable accommodation to a wide range of groups, not just students, as explicitly stated in the guidance itself.
“By effectively banning them you are restricting the total accommodation available, with consequences for rent levels which will increase.”
Areas with high proportions of HMOs have been associated with waste management and anti-social behavior problems – issues local authorities said would be improved through Additional Licensing back in 2014.
The RLA had argued against Additional Licensing, pointing out the city council was already well-equipped to deal with problems like waste. Now that these measures have failed, the council is looking to planning restrictions.
Mr Haig added: “This is another bureaucratic measure that will only impede community cohesion. This will have impacts not only on the students, but on single working professionals, which landlords and the local area rely on greatly.”
Cardiff University Students’ Union has backs the association. Hollie Cooke, Vice President Welfare said: “By restricting, and essentially prohibiting the development of HMO’s in the Cathays areas, students will be forced to move into other areas of Cardiff.
“This will not only create greater costs for students as they travel further, it will also cause individuals to rent in areas that are not used to student neighbours, causing greater community cohesion problems.
“Safety becomes a greater concern, as the frequency of students having to walk longer distances in the dark will increase and with the same number of HMOs remaining, these restrictions do little to address the core problems highlighted, as the population density in Cathays remains the same.
“This is an unwelcome change, that will likely be detrimental to the student population, and do little to benefit the community in, and around, the Cathays area.”