The Executive received a report, which had previously been considered by Development Control Committee and Renewal, Recreation and Housing PDS Committee, setting out information relating to the nature and scale of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Bromley. The report set out the options for controlling HMOs and whether the options could be justified given the available evidence.
Councillor Melanie Stevens addressed the meeting as ward member for Biggin Hill. She was concerned that there was a cluster of HMOs emerging in Biggin Hill Valley – she was aware of 13 in a small area, with a further 7 expected. Although she accepted that HMO’s did fulfil a need, it was not appropriate to have so many in a small area which was not well-served by public transport, and where access to doctors and dentists might be limited. She called for better control and monitoring of HMOs.
Councillor Peter Morgan as Portfolio Holder for Renewal, Recreation and Housing reported that the issue had been considered by Development Control Committee and Renewal, Recreation and Housing PDS Committee. Both Committees had been in favour of implementing an Article 4 Direction to control HMOs across the whole borough, with an immediate Article 4 Direction covering the wards of Biggin Hill and Darwin. This view was supported by some other members of the Executive, but officers advised that there was a need to provide more robust evidence to ensure that the proposed Article 4 Direction would be effective.
The Leader was concerned that waiting for 2021 Census data to become available would lead to an unacceptable delay and urged that officers strengthen the evidence base and report back to Development Control Committee and Renewal, Recreation and Housing PDS Committee in time for the matter to be re-considered at the next meeting of the Executive.
(1) The impacts of HMOs identified in the report and the accompanying evidence base documented in Appendix 1 be noted.
(2) The Council continues to monitor, and keep up-to-date, evidence relating to HMOs in the Borough, including seeking more information on smaller HMOs borough-wide and within existing and developing clusters.
(3) Officers report back to future Development Control Committee, Renewal, Recreation and Housing PDS Committee and Executive Committees with any further evidence and/or guidance as it emerges, no later than early data from the 2021 Census, which indicate that additional planning control might prove possible.
This report contained information relating to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and the nature and scale of HMOs in Bromley. The report set out the options available for controlling HMOs in the Borough and whether such options were justified given the available evidence. The report had been considered by Development Control Committee on 20th May 2021 and the Committee had supported introducing a non-immediate borough-wide Article 4 Direction covering the whole borough, and an immediate Article 4 Direction covering Biggin Hill and Darwin wards. The Committee had also requested that the licensing arrangements for HMOs be reviewed, and it was confirmed that officers were doing this.
Councillors Benington and Scoates, as ward members for Biggin Hill and Darwin respectively, spoke in support of an immediate Article 4 Direction for their wards. Councillor Benington stated that there was limited public transport and community facilities in the area and in one small part of his ward there were already 13 HMOs, with another 7 expected, mostly owned by a single company.
Officers confirmed that an Article 4 Direction could only control the future development of HMOs by requiring that planning permission be obtained. If an immediate Article 4 Direction was imposed there was a risk that potential developers could claim compensation from the Council if permission was refused.
RESOLVED: that the Executive be recommended to consider the imposition of a non-immediate borough-wide Article 4 Direction to control HMOs, with an immediate Article 4 direction covering Biggin Hill and Darwin wards.
This report contained information relating to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and the nature and scale of HMOs in Bromley. The report also set out the options available for controlling HMOs in the Borough and whether such options were justified given the available evidence.
Visiting Ward Member for Biggin Hill, Councillor Melanie Stevens reported that the type of houses being purchased were three bedroomed terraced, semi-detached or end-of-terrace family affordable properties which provided much-needed housing for families. While one or two HMOs would be acceptable, the area had been flooded with 20 within a very small area which tipped the balance in providing a mixed balance of housing stock to meet the needs of local residents. The room sizes were tight and the configurations awkward. Such poor quality accommodation should not be permitted. Although fitted out with the health and safety requirements, no thought had been given to insulating the properties and the increase in noise generated by this type of independent living would be a disturbance to neighbouring properties.
Councillor Stevens went on to state that transport in Biggin Hill was limited to public buses and did not allow easy access to potential work opportunities or support networks across the borough. The type of people moving into the properties would not be able to afford to buy their own vehicles and local residents were concerned about the type of people moving in and the effect this would have on the local community. In this regard, a petition had been started which had already obtained over 1700 signatures. With the full support of the Biggin Hill Residents’ Association, Councillor Stevens asked that the recommendations in the report include the introduction of an immediate Article 4 Direction as she believed there was an immediate threat to the local area.
Councillor Scoates stated the Council should be bolder in how this problem was resolved. He suggested that a recommendation be added to bring in a non-immediate Article 4 Direction across the entire borough giving a 12-month period in which to avoid potential legal action. He also suggested a further recommendation to bring in an immediate Article 4 Direction for Biggin Hill and Darwin on the basis that PTAL rates were too low in those areas. It was not acceptable to have people with low car ownership levels trying to get around the community to find work or visit job centres, medical practices or supermarkets.
Councillor Bear agreed with the issue of a non-immediate Article 4 Direction across the borough. There was currently a proliferation of HMOs across the borough. Cray Valley Ward had the highest proportion of HMOs in Bromley and about 25% were known to be problem HMOs. Problems arose when HMOs became concentrated in a particular area. As well as the recommendation for a non-immediate Article 4 Direction across the Borough, Councillor Bear suggested that licensing colleagues be asked to look again at the licensing requirements for smaller HMOs.
Councillor Fawthrop supported the making of immediate Article 4 ... view the full minutes text for item 40