Draft Thanet Local Plan - 2031 - Pre-Submission Publication, Regulation 19

Houses in Multiple Occupation including student accommodation

11.30 Accommodation within a building can be regarded as non-self-contained where unrelated households share one or more facilities such as a bathroom or kitchen. Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are an example where a high degree of sharing of facilities is typical, and where living arrangements, being more intense than single family occupation, can give rise to noise, nuisance, more callers, a higher parking requirement and visual deterioration of buildings and gardens.

11.31 While the Council does not wish to encourage proliferation of HMOs as a permanent measure, it does recognise that such sharing arrangements can provide a source of cheap rented accommodation, including affordable accommodation for students and supported housing. The previous Local Plan applied a criteria based policy, the principles of which are considered to remain valid.

11.32 In 2010 the Government introduced new legislation signifying that planning permission would no longer be required for change of use of a dwelling house to a house in multiple occupations for up to 6 unrelated people. The Council subsequently approved an Article 4 direction so that planning permission would still be required for such change of use in Thanet.

11.33 The extent to which non-self-contained accommodation may generate the problems referred to above depends not only on intensity of occupation, sharing of facilities and management of the building, but also the nature of the area in which it is situated, the type of building, and the concentration of similar uses in its vicinity.

11.34 Alternative use of family homes as private student accommodation in the form of multiple occupations has caused local concerns focused on the neighbourhood around the Broadstairs University campus. Christ Church University and East Kent College are highly important for delivering skills required by the workforce, meeting the expectations of existing and potential employers and stemming out migration of young people. Supporting the functions of our higher and further education establishments includes the need to recognise demand arising for suitably located decent accommodation for students. At the same time it is essential to ensure that satisfying such demand does not result in undue concentration of non self-contained accommodation in order to avoid local disturbance and to maintain a mixed and settled community.

11.35 In 2014 the percentage of properties in use as private sector student accommodation in the form of HMOs at the residential estate adjoining the campus was estimated at 2.4%. While such uses have generated local concern, including that recent changes of use might signal an ongoing trend, the Council does not consider that restriction on further change of use is currently justified in principle. Nonetheless, these concerns point to the need to incorporate within policy an indicative ceiling level of cumulative impact in order to maintain mixed and settled communities. Having assessed the circumstances in the district and approaches applied in other locations, the Council considers 5% represents an appropriate level. Bearing in mind the potential for displacement pressure that such restriction may generate, this level is considered appropriate across the district. In order to address potential for localised concentration within this headroom, the 5% is applied on the basis of a 50 metre radius.

11.36 The Cliftonville Development Plan Document (DPD) imposes a restriction on HMOs, and in the area it applies to that DPD takes precedence over the following policy.

Policy HO21 - Non self-contained residential accommodation

In considering applications to establish or regularise non self-contained residential accommodation or before instigating enforcement proceedings under planning powers to require cessation of such use, account will be taken of:

1) the likely or experienced effect of the use on the character and amenity of the locality resulting from noise, disturbance and visual impact;

2) whether the proposed or unlawful use would or has resulted in an intensification or concentration of such uses to a level which is detrimental to the amenity and character of the neighbourhood including in relation to the considerations set out in (1) above. Applications will be considered contrary to this policy where they would result in more than (or further exceed) 5% of properties in such use within a 50m radius of the application property (or exceed or further exceed 1 HMO in any frontage of 20 dwellings). Proposals below this threshold will additionally be considered on their individual merits against all other clauses of this policy.

3) the adequacy of provision and suitability of arrangements for car parking on site or the likely or experienced impact of parking needs being met on street; and

4) the suitability of arrangements for dustbin storage and collection.

Operational Note

In considering part 1 of this policy, noise problems generated by particular individuals in non-self-contained residential accommodation are essentially a management matter. In considering regularisation of non-self-contained accommodation, the Council will have regard only to the extent that noise is generated as a result of the nature of that use i.e. resulting from intensity of occupation and living arrangements.

In considering part 2 of this policy, the Council's register of licenced HMOs will be used to identify existing HMOs in the vicinity of the application property.