Headlines: February 5th, 2008

A Nottingham City Council delegation will meet the Planning Minister today to ask for changes in legislation in a move backed by local authorities in other university towns and cities. They will urge Iain Wright from the Department for Communities and Local Government, to look again at the law on houses in multiple occupation.

The meeting has been arranged by Nottingham North MP Graham Allen and the delegation will be led by Councillor Dave Trimble, who holds the City Council’s Communities, Leisure and Culture Portfolio. He will be accompanied by Shane Neville, the Head of Planning, Mike Cole, the council’s Student Strategy Manager, Maya Fletcher, Co-ordinator of the Nottingham Action Group on houses in multiple occupation and by Melanie Futer, who is Manager of Off-Campus Student Affairs at the University of Nottingham.They will urge the Government to make changes to planning legislation to require those who want to convert a family home into an HMO to apply for permission to do so.

Councillor Trimble explained, “We are asking, along with several other university towns and cities across the country, for a change in the planning legislation to allow more control of what happens to family homes. At present, a family house can be converted to an HMO without any need for planning permission. We feel that this needs to be changed to avoid Nottingham losing its neighbourhoods.”

Maya Fletcher said that under the legislation as it stands, there was little that could be done to prevent a family home from being converted. For cities like Nottingham that meant the loss of good quality family housing that it could ill afford to lose. “The changes to planning legislation we are asking for will help to prevent further erosion of neighbourhoods already swamped by HMOs, and to prevent other neighbourhoods from going the same way,” she said.