The RLA has responded to Worcester City Council’s Article 4 Directions consultation, opposing any plans for changes to local planning law relating to small HMOs.
Under current permitted development rights, landlords can turn residential properties of single occupancy into houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) for non-related individuals, such as nurses or students.
However, Worcester is considering using Article 4 Directions, meaning landlords and other property owners could not make such changes without obtaining planning permission.
Worcester City Council believes the use of Article 4 will assist in controlling the growing student population, in response to perceived issues of anti-social behaviour and other minor criminality.
In its response the RLA stated, “We are concerned that the council’s documentation makes several references to issues such as “anti-social behaviour”, “minor crime”, and “burglary” yet provides no evidence to substantiate these concerns, or outline the extent of the perceived problems in the area. We are disturbed that Worcester City Council is encouraging misconceptions about young people, without a shred of evidence to validate its insinuations.”
The RLA also noted that in making such insinuations Worcester was “ignoring its own [consultation] report” which stated that the burgeoning student population could generate, “positive effects” for the area, and that, “…universities are generally significant employers and contribute to the local economy and students also tend to provide a flexible part time work force.”
In the absence of evidence to substantiate Worcester’s claims, the RLA has submitted a Freedom of Information (FoI) request for the crime figures for anti-social and other crimes specifically linked to Worcester HMOs occupied by students for the years 2007 to 2012.
The RLA now awaits the conclusion of the consultation, and the response to its FoI request.