To consider any questions submitted by Members of the Council, in accordance with Standing Order 4.8.11 (b).
Audio recording – Start of item – Session 2 – 1 hour 9 minutes 40 seconds
In accordance with Standing Order 4.8.11(b) of the Council’s Constitution three questions were submitted by Members.
(A) Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs)
Councillor Terry Tyler to Councillor David Levett (Executive Member for Planning, Enterprise and Transport):
‘You will be aware that the highest density on HMO’s in the district is Great Ashby a part of my Chesfield Ward. Indeed, in at least one road over 70% of the houses are HMO’s. These dwelling in high density do exasperate already stretched parking and can have a negative effect on community values.
I know that in these days, where our young folk find it near impossible to get on the housing ladder, that controlled HMO’s are an important part in providing accommodation and that my concerns are the application of controls and lack of planning permission now required for small HMO’s, which can lead to high densities of uncontrolled and unregulated HMO’s.
In the light that Stevenage Borough Council’s decision to bring Small HMO’s (6 or less occupants) back into requiring planning permission, this puts an extra strain on the District, not only on Great Ashby, but many other district areas.
Can you tell me what the North Herts District Council are doing regarding tightening up on new HMO regulating to ensure that those types of accommodation, which is essential for ensuring younger generations can live close to where they work, are of good quality and properly regulated?’
Councillor Levett replied that new legislation had been introduced recently regarding HMO’s which now required an application if a premises housed 5 or more unrelated occupants. To date ten applications had been received by the Council and work continued to investigate those premises where applications should have been submitted.
Regarding Article 4 it was currently unfeasible both from a financial or human resources perspective and the issue had not been raised at any budget workshops. However, Councillor Levett would discuss the issue with Officers as to whether a future feasibility study for Article 4 was possible in the future.
Regarding the licensing of HMO’s Councillor Lovewell echoed Cllr Levett’s statement explaining that the Council had undertaken a publicity campaign to landlords regarding changes to legislation and HMO’s.
(B) Breaches of Planning Consent
Councillor Lisa Nash to Councillor David Levett (Executive Member for Planning, Enterprise and Transport):
‘How many breaches of planning consent have been reported to the Council in the last 3 years?’
Councillor Levett replied that there had been 453 breaches of planning consent.
As a supplementary question Councillor Nash asked how many enforcement actions had been taken. Councillor Levett replied he did not have the information available. However, many cases complied prior to enforcement action being required and when enforcement action was required the Council was robust in its actions, for example, Claypit Cottages.
(C) Royston Parking Review
Councillor Ruth Brown to Councillor David Levett (Executive Member for Planning, Enterprise and Transport):
‘When will the On-Street Royston Parking review be completed?’
Councillor Levett replied that the lack of a Council Transport Officer and pressures on the Strategic Planning department due to the Local Plan preparation had meant progress had not been as expedient as had hoped. However, recruitment was underway for a Transport Officer and the Parking Strategy was a high level priority in the strategic action plan so it was hoped that this would commence early in the new year.