COUNCILLORS have questioned Warwick District Council’s own policy on converting houses for multiple occupation after two controversial applications were both approved.
Plans were given the green light in Leamington to convert two properties despite both breaking the council’s guidelines that no more than ten per cent of properties in a 100 metre radius will be used as a so-called HMO (house in multiple occupation).
Plans for more student accommodation in Old Town were granted. The Costcutter store on the corner of High Street and Church Street already has seven bedrooms, but the agreed plans will see the number of rooms available doubled.
Concerns about over development, rubbish as well as the HMO policy were all raised in objection.
Ward councillor Colin Quinney said: “This is an area where HMOs are already at twice the limit set by policy.
“It exits on to a residential road, Church Street, where there have been recent complaints about noise nuisance. It should have been turned down.
“In this and other similar cases, our planners seem little concerned about the main thrust and purpose of the policy to limit over-concentration. They treat circumstances where exceptions may be made as if they must be made.
“It makes a mockery of the whole process and needs an urgent and thorough review.”
Coun Kristie Naimo is on the planning committee but spoke against the application, together with another HMO application in Clarendon Street which also exceeded the ten per cent HMO limit. The second application was not for student accommodation.
She added: “Councillors have been discussing the issues around HMOs and we thought we understood how our policy was being applied. It seems not.
“Two of the main concerns with HMOs are noise and waste. In the case of High Street – even our own contracts officer did not feel the the increased number of tenants in this property would be workable with the bin arrangements.”
And Coun Ann Morrison commented on the HMP policy on behalf of the town council.
She said: “Residents will be worried that this policy is not working as they believed it was.
“Why too was the clear policy on provision of off-street car and cycle spaces ignored in this case? The pressure on on-street parking nearby is already severe.”