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HMO next steps in Swansea

Swansea Council will look again at planning guidance aimed at managing houses in multiple occupation in the city.

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The Council has agreed to look further at concentration levels of HMOs in the city including parts of Uplands and Castle wards where the majority of HMOs exist.

Draft planning guidance was recently presented to the Council's Planning Committee for approval, which proposed to restrict HMOs in parts of Uplands and Castle that already have high concentrations of HMOs to a 25% limit. The guidance also proposed a 10% level for other parts of the city.

The committee resolved however not to move forward with the recommendation to approve the SPG and instead to look at considering other concentration levels, including the impact of having a lower level of 15% in the south of Uplands. 

It also resolved to look further at the suggestion of introducing a policy on 'non-sandwiching' of residential properties to preclude two HMOs sandwiching an existing non-HMO property. 

There are approximately 2,000 HMOs in Swansea with more than 1,600 in Uplands and Castle. A majority provide accommodation for thousands of students that live and study in Swansea, however they also provide accommodation for other shared users such as young people living independently for the first time, and those on low incomes who are sometimes unable to afford to buy or rent family homes.

David Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Commercial Opportunities and Innovation, said: "HMOs provide a valuable and much needed form of housing in Swansea for a wide range of people, including students that choose to study here.  

"It is vital that we have in place a properly evidenced policy that will assist us in determining future planning applications for HMOs and will serve to protect communities against an over-concentration of this type of accommodation.

"The SPG needs to be realistic and give us the opportunity to determine future planning applications in a fair and balanced way without the risk of them being overruled in the event of an appeal. The guidance originally put forward, I believe would have achieved this. 

 "We will now need to revisit the evidence and carry out further analysis of amendments, including the impact of changing the threshold limits proposed in the SPG. This further work will of course involve re-consultation and further engagement with affected groups and stakeholders."

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