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City council clamps down on shared houses

Student areas targeted by new directive

Published on October 12th 2010.

City council clamps down on shared houses

Manchester City Council is introducing a legal order to stop areas of the city being ‘overrun’ by the spread of shared houses following a change in the law.

The council is set to introduce an Article Four Direction, which will mean developers will still have to apply for planning permission if they want to turn buildings into houses in multiple occupancy - where unrelated people live together.

The move is expected to have an impact in popular student areas like Fallowfield and Withington, where the council says the high concentrations of house-shares can have ‘a negative impact on the surrounding neighbourhood by causing an increase in noise and disturbance.’

Under the Town And Country Planning Order, which the government introduced on 1 October, developers no longer need planning permission to turn homes into shared houses.

However, councils have the opportunity to introduce directions, meaning they can effectively opt out of the change in the law and insist developers still apply for planning permission when creating shared houses.

High concentrations of house-shares can also cause the types of shops and services available in those areas to change.

The direction, which will cover the whole of Manchester, will now come into effect in October 2011.

Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council's executive member for the environment, said: "We know a lot of residents are concerned about the spread of shared houses, particularly in areas in the south of the city, and we are keen to do whatever we can to manage this spread.

"The new law would have meant that any control over the spread of shared houses would have been taken away from us.

"However, we need to be able to tackle the problems caused by the uncontrolled growth of shared lets, making sure communities retain the identity of their neighbourhoods, and that is why we are now introducing this order."

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Eddy RheadOctober 12th 2010.

This is unlikely to deter this type of 'development'. The council do not have the resources to police this directive. Landlords will convert houses regardless and flout the directive. In the unlikely event the council takes action they may either pay a paltry fine or sell the property on. This is not a criticism of the planning department i hasten to add - they themselves must get very frustrated by the inability (due to lack of resources and any serious legal clout) to seriously punish or deter unpermitted conversions. I welcome this directive (i live opposite a 3 bedroom family house that has been converted in to an 8 bedroom HMO (without planning permission) but i dont see much changing im afraid.

mOctober 12th 2010.

Will this not encourage landlords to split their large houses into smaller apartments and 'bedsit' type accommodation? I'd argue that this is worse.

I think there's nothing wrong with shared houses. In fact there's a lot right with them. Do all young professionals who can't afford their own house have to be holed up in one bed apartments?

The problem is large concentrations of houses left to rot by landlords. Student housing is the main culprit. You could solve these problems by enforcing council tax onto a dwelling irrespective of tenants. This would help manage the levels of student houses in an area as they are usually exempt.

House shares (even posh ones) are cheaper than equivalent standards of one & two bed apartments. Clamp down on this too much and you'll push up the cost of living in these areas.

Anon tooOctober 12th 2010.

It;s a fair point M. The council may want to crack down on student ghettos, but it's a bit too late for that I'm afraid. They've been allowed to develop to a sizer where the council has lost control.

Lots of landlords trying to cram students into run-down houses to make money.

Eddy RheadOctober 12th 2010.

The problem with HMOs is that they are conversions of family homes which werent designed to accommodate large amounts of single people. There is a greater strain on amenities - rubbish disposal, car parking etc when 8 single people live in a house rather than when a family live in the same house. Their transient nature reduce social cohesion and there is rarely any sense of community pride or a willingness to take pride in the appearance and upkeep of the house.

UnaPlannerOctober 12th 2010.

What the article fails to state is the requirement for landlords to seek planning permission only came into effect on 1st April 2010, and the Conservatives pledged to scrap it. Hence we have only had a 6 month period where planning permission was (and no longer is) mandatory, so it impossibe to guauge how succesful it might have been.

High Planes ShifterOctober 12th 2010.

Shame about the 12 month hiatus before this comes into effect. In that time the greedy Cheshire-based slum landlords can snatch up any family houses on the market and turn them into yet more student dives, driving what remains of the middle-class even further out of town. Hopefully, the higher-education bubble burst and new build student apartments might kill of this practice.

AnonymousOctober 13th 2010.

I am so frustrated that there is an automatic assumption shared houses have to be a) shite and b) for students. I choose to share a house with friends; this means we can colletively afford a much nicer place and we also avoid isolation caused by living in an over priced lonely apartment. We all have jobs and take care of, and pride in our house. I think we are good neighbours. It seems to me a very sensible and resource effiecent way to live and something to be encouraged. We don't all aspire to conventional family life or yuppie shoe boxes. On a seperate rant there are a helluva lot of scummy landlords who treat tenants like shite; this to me is the problem that needs tackling - as does the lack of decent, affordable homes for everyone.

Eddy RheadOctober 13th 2010.

My beef isnt with shared houses. My next door but one neighbours are (post grad) students and they are lovely. The problem is with landlords and 'developers' who show disregard for planning law and local communities by cramming more accommodation in to a house than what they were designed for.

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