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Plan to restrict HMOs in Netherfield unlikely to go ahead due to ‘insufficient evidence’

A potential plan to limit the number of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) across Netherfield is unlikely to go ahead due to “insufficient evidence” showing it is needed.

Gedling Borough Council papers say a suggested ‘Article 4 direction’ is not going to be adopted by its cabinet next week, despite calls for the order to be brought in by residents, councillors and opposition leaders earlier this year.

The proposed direction would give more power to the authority to restrict existing properties from being converted into HMOs across various parts of the town.

It could involve restrictions on applications to convert properties when they come before the authority’s planning committee.

Currently, applications are not regularly reviewed by councillors and some don’t require planning consent.

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Assessments of whether the direction is needed came in response to concerns from residents about the rising number of HMOs in the town – and the potential impact it could have on the community.

These include family homes being removed from the town, a rise in parking issues, drainage problems and fears over potential anti-social behaviour.

A motion submitted by Tory group leader Councillor Mike Adams at April’s full council meeting, which called on the council to investigate whether the direction was required, was given cross-party backing.

It followed Tom Randall (Con), Gedling’s MP, launching a survey alongside Cllr Adams to gather residents’ views and to allow the community to “take back control of their neighbourhoods”.

Council papers state the survey, which had 111 responses, and a separate residents’ event in March, did raise “valid concerns” on the issue.

However, officers at the Labour-led council have confirmed they will not push forward with the plan and say various concerns raised about the number of HMOs in Netherfield “do not demonstrate [it is] justified”.

Cabinet members will be recommended not to push ahead with the Article 4 direction when they meet on June 16.

But the recommendation has led to concerns from Tom Randall MP, who described the council’s stance as “reactive”.

He said: “While the council continues to turn their backs on the community, residents’ roads continue to be heavily congested with more and more parked cars and affordable family homes being taken out of the housing market.

“I urge the Labour-run council to abandon their reactive approach and engage proactively with Netherfield residents, as Mike Adams and I have done so that the voices of Netherfield residents are heard.”

Nottingham City Council and Broxtowe Borough Council have implemented their own Article 4 directions, in Lenton and Beeston respectively, to address the number of family homes being converted for student use.

And Cllr John Clarke (Lab), leader of Gedling Borough Council, believes one of the reasons Article 4 is not right for Netherfield is because it is frequently targeted at student housing.

Cllr Clarke, who represents Netherfield, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Article 4 was designed for heavy student areas like Lenton and in other cities – it’s probably not suitable for what we want in Netherfield.

“Don’t get me wrong, HMOs are not the way to bring society up. I don’t like them and I will try my best to find something to resolve the situation.”

He adds Netherfield’s selective licensing policy, which monitors the standards of private rented homes and requires landlords to pay a fee to ensure their properties are up to scratch, will help to address the issue.

But Russell Whiting, an admin of the Netherfield Against HMO Landlords residents’ group, called on the authority to go further with the selective licensing policy and record how many landlords own HMOs.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he expressed his disappointment with the council’s plans but said it is “not the end” of residents’ campaigns.

He added: “The report to cabinet states that there is insufficient evidence, but also that the number of HMOs isn’t known.

“Gedling Borough Council has introduced selective licensing in Netherfield but doesn’t record whether properties are private rented or HMOs.

“We’re calling on the council to break down these figures to find out exactly how many HMOs there are in Netherfield. We can’t continue to lose family homes to out-of-town developers interested in making money from our town.”

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