Wigan Council announces new rules on HMO house share schemes

New regulations that will help the council manage the number of shared houses in areas of Wigan and Leigh have come into force.
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Landlords and developers will now need planning permission to convert properties into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

The policy will be enforced in Swinley and central Leigh following residents’ feedback about the rising number of HMOs in those areas.

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Previously, a change of use from a house to a large HMO (of more than six people) required planning permission, but a change of use to a small HMO (between three and six people) does not.

Wigan Council has announced new rules on HMO planning applicationsWigan Council has announced new rules on HMO planning applications
Wigan Council has announced new rules on HMO planning applications

Following a cabinet decision in July, the formal adoption of an “article 4 direction” now means HMOs of any size in those two locations will be considered through the planning system.

Coun Paul Prescott, cabinet member for planning, environment and transport said: “Listening to feedback and concerns of local residents is extremely important to shaping communities and a borough people can be proud of.

“Historically, we have only been able to manage larger size HMOs, however, this new direction will give us more opportunities to manage the development and quality of HMOs in the two areas where they are most prevalent.

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“Since cabinet approved this move, we have consulted with residents and are happy to say that the response has been very positive and the direction has been welcomed.”

There are currently 105 known HMOs in the borough and the main concentrations are in Swinley and central Leigh with 30 and 24, respectively.

Coun Prescott added: “We appreciate that HMOs provide a form of low-cost, flexible housing, particularly for younger people and those on lower incomes, but there are concerns associated when the number of HMOs is increasing in a concentrated area.

“Such concerns include the impact on parking provision, excess noise, impact on the physical environment and changes to the character of a residential area.

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“To ensure that future planning applications for HMOs provide quality accommodation, whilst mitigating the impact on existing residents, a supplementary planning document is also due to be created to aid developers and landlords, providing clear guidance on appropriate HMO accommodation standards. We will be offering the opportunity for interested parties to comment on this document at the appropriate time.

“The new approach to HMOs in these two areas, along with the launch of Wigan Council’s Ethical Lettings Agency, will ensure that we can work closely with housing colleagues and the private rented sector to ensure quality, affordable homes for all.”

The new policy was formally adopted on Monday, January 20.