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HS14  Houses in Multiple Occupation  Policy

Proposals for the conversion of existing buildings to multi-occupancy will not be permitted unless the proposal fulfils all the following criteria:

(i) the property being of sufficient size to accommodate the proposal and not of modern domestic scale;

(ii) if the property is not detached then adjoining property is not in single family occupation;

(iii) the proposal not resulting in a private dwelling having an HMO on both sides;

(iv) the proposal not resulting in a change in the character of the surrounding area which would be detrimental;

(v) the proposal not resulting in a concentration of HMO's in a particular area such that the character of the area is adversely affected;

(vi) the proposal ensuring the privacy of neighbours and occupants, including the layout of car parking areas, to prevent overlooking of habitable room windows;

(vii) staircase access normally being provided within the main structure of the building. If external staircases have to be provided they must not result in significant overlooking of neighbours' windows or private amenity space;

(viii) any extensions required complying with Policy HS11;

(ix) any new windows required to serve habitable rooms, such as living rooms, kitchens or bedrooms, not overlooking adjoining properties to an unacceptable degree;

(x) any interior vertical partitions not cutting across windows and ceiling height reductions not being visible externally;

(xi) adequate sound proofing being provided;

(xii) any basement accommodation having windows with two-thirds of their height above the existing outside ground level giving sufficient daylight penetration, a reasonable outlook and not immediately adjacent to parking bays and vehicle accessways;

(xiii) main living rooms having a reasonable outlook and not lit solely by roof lights, nor in close proximity to high boundary or gable walls;

(xiv) access to rear yards/,gardens being provided from each flat;

(xv) adequate visibility at entrance and exit points and turning space for vehicles; and

(xvi) the proposal otherwise complying with Policy HS4 and Policy HS5.

Existing HMO's and valid planning permissions must not comprise more than 20% or more of the properties forming the street frontage within a street block.

Reasoned justification :

6.68 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are houses which are not occupied by a single family but by a number of unrelated people and small groups in varying combinations. The type of accommodation ranges from bed sitting rooms to bed and breakfast establishments for long stay residents. There are an estimated 2,500 HMOs in Wirral, which if properly managed, can provide a valuable source of low-cost accommodation and fill a necessary gap in the housing market.

6.69 Such accommodation can bring about special problems, both in terms of the quality of the accommodation provided, the impact on adjoining properties and the character of the surrounding area. Such impact is due to the number of residents in HMOs and the consequent comings and goings, especially when compared to activity arising from normal family housing.

6.70 The properties most commonly used for HMOs are large old houses, frequently in poor physical repair, but with good external space standards. If repaired and brought up to standard, these larger properties can provide accommodation for those requiring small low-cost housing. More modern or smaller terraced properties are normally unsuitable for use as HMOs as they cannot easily be adapted and their use can have a detrimental impact on neighbouring property.

6.71 The Council is promoting work through its Housing and Building Control functions to bring existing HMOs up to standard, with adequate internal facilities, such as sanitation and communal rooms, together with the provision of fire escapes which may be external. To the extent that HMOs require extensive inspection and resources being diverted towards their improvement, the Council is concerned not to encourage the further creation of poor standard accommodation.