Investigations into impact of HMOs in Netherfield is set to continue for further six months

The potential impact on Netherfield of houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs) is to be monitored for a further six months.

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The potential impact on Netherfield of houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs) is to be monitored for a further six months.

But Gedling Borough Council will not yet implement an order aimed at tackling the issue after investigations found there is “insufficient evidence” it is currently needed.

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Gedling leader John Clarke, left and deputy leader Michael Payne, right say the situation needs to be monitored over the next few months

Cabinet members on the Labour-led authority discussed the issue on Thursday (June 16) following concerns from residents and politicians about the growing number of HMOs in the town.

These include family homes being removed from the town, a rise in parking issues, drainage problems and fears over potential anti-social behaviour.

A survey launched by Gedling’s Conservative MP Tom Randall and Tory group leader Councillor Mike Adams earlier this year gathered 111 responses raising similar concerns.

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And a meeting held by residents in March also voiced fears over the impact on their community.

This came ahead of the council passing a motion in April calling for the issue to be investigated to see whether a potential ‘Article 4 direction’ could be used to clamp down on HMOs in the town.

The move would give more power to the authority to restrict existing properties from being converted into HMOs, including calling in potential planning applications to be reviewed by councillors.

At present, residential homes do not need to be given planning permission to be converted into HMOs after the Government changed planning laws in 2010.

This was a decision described as a “misstep” during Thursday’s cabinet meeting.

But council officers investigating the issue say there is currently no evidence to suggest it would be needed, believing implementing one now could lead to costly appeals by the Government or developers.

The town is currently covered by a selective licensing scheme aimed at monitoring private rented properties, which has been in place for a number of years.

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And council officers say they will begin using this scheme to assess how many HMOs are licensed in Netherfield to gain a better picture of the issue.

These assessments will then be used to form a report to decide whether there is scope for an Article 4 direction in the future.

Cllr Michael Payne (Lab), deputy leader of the council, confirmed further and more detailed assessments will take place with the report expected within six months.

He said: “What in essence the cabinet is saying today is that we’re acutely aware of the concerns raised by local residents.

“Although at the moment current evidence may not meet the threshold required for an Article 4, this cabinet is not going to close down the route to an Article 4 – it’s going to keep the situation under a close monitor.

“If there is then sufficient evidence for an Article 4 – either immediate or non-immediate – this cabinet will not hesitate in taking a decision to implement it.

“But that decision will be taken at that time.”

Cllr Jenny Hollingsworth, the council’s portfolio holder for housing, health and wellbeing, added that “robust evidence” is needed to show the Article 4 direction is required.

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She said: “If we don’t have this and just introduced an Article 4 without it, we risk it being overturned by either the Secretary of State or being challenged by developers.

“This is a hugely expensive undertaking to defend, so I absolutely agree another six months of monitoring and evidence gathering [is needed] so we can make a proper determination.”

In amended recommendations, unanimously approved by the Labour cabinet, Cllr Payne said Cllr John Clarke, the authority’s leader and Netherfield councillor, will write to the Government calling for stricter HMO planning laws.

The deputy leader also called on anyone who thinks the Article 4 direction should be implemented immediately to “come forward with concrete evidence” showing it is needed now.

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