Policy D2

Policy D2: Student Accommodation in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

D2.1: In order to promote the creation of sustainable, inclusive and mixed communities and maintain an appropriate housing mix, development proposals for new build Houses in Multiple Occupation (both C4 and sui generis), extensions that result in additional bed-spaces, and changes of use from any use to:

  1. a Class C4 (House in Multiple Occupation), where planning permission is required; or
  2. a House in Multiple Occupation in a sui generis use (more than six people sharing)

will not be permitted if more than 10% of the total number of properties within 100 metres of the application site are already in use as HMOs or student accommodation exempt from council tax charges or the student population exceeds 20% of the total population in that area.

D2.2: In all cases development proposals will only be permitted where:

  1. The quantity of cycle and car parking provided is in line with the Council’s adopted Parking and Accessibility Guidelines and Policies T3 and T4 of this Plan; and
  2. They provide acceptable arrangements for bin storage and other shared facilities and consider other amenity issues; and
  3. The design of the building or any extension would be appropriate in terms of the property itself and the character of the area; and
  4. The applicant has shown that the security of the building and its occupants has been considered along with that of other local residents and legitimate users.

D2.3: Changes of use from an HMO to C3 will be supported. Opportunities to enable this will be explored as they arise in order to assist the re-balancing of neighbourhoods.

4.152 Policy Implementation Project 2 in Chapter 5 indicates how policy D2.3 could be taken forward.

Note: For justification see Policy D3

Next section: Policy D3: Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA)

10 Responses to Policy D2

  1. Timothy Clark says:

    I support this policy, as well as any viable measures to convert C4 type housing to C3.

    I think Mr Peter Smith makes an excellent point in writing that “Modern purpose built student accommodation is very expensive and beyond the means of many, it is no cheaper if built and run by the University”. Surely this also suggests the desirability of the University being able to offer accommodation at costs that are not effectively forcing students into HMOs. Many students will continue to prefer HMOs for reasons of lifestyle.

    The University is a vibrant and much valued part of Durham City. However, the density of HMOs in the City is widely experienced as a problem.

  2. Hilary Phillips says:

    I support the policy’s aim of avoiding an over-concentration of student properties. The planning policies of Bath and Lincoln also use a threshold of 10% in a 100m radius. The Bath policy counts properties which have planning permission for HMO use, not just properties which are already in use as HMOs. The wording of D2.1 seems to offer a loophole. The Bath policy also disallows change of use if that would result in another property ending up having an HMO on both sides. That would be a worthwhile amendment to consider. The Lincoln policy does not allow change of use to HMO if there would then be more than 2 HMOs in a row, to prevent local concentration.

    Oxford City Council has a policy which restricts each university to a maximum of 3000 students living out, by refusing planning permission for other university buildings if they have not got a plan in place to bring the numbers living out down to that level. Will the neighbourhood plan policy manage to reverse the current imbalances, or does it need to be stronger?

  3. Peter Smith says:

    This University and very few others have the desire or means to provide all accommodation itself. Much of the university accommodation in Durham and elsewhere is of poor quality and HEI are moving to more private partnerships with accommodation providers. Modern purpose built student accommodation is very expensive and beyond the means of many, it is no cheaper if built and run by the University. HMO providers a lower cost option which is a lifeline for many students.
    Article 4 Directions have, in all cities in which they have been imposed, had a large benefit to landlords in terms of capital values. Their success has varied and many appeals have been successful. Whilst the lower limit of 10% is in place it provides a clear definition for applicants however the lack of an upper limit can cause concern for longer term residents who may feel trapped in an area that has changed in character. An upper limit needs to be defined and whilst everyone is seeking a balanced society it is arguable that a 10% lower limit does not create a balance but a minority group within a community.
    More effort needs to be put in to expanding HMO into unused and underused space above retail, such as in the excellent repurposing of the large redundant spaces above and behind the former Silver Street post office and the new development about the Riverwalk centre. Creating income from these spaces may take financial pressure from beleagued retailers and breathe fresh life into city centres. Far too many ill-informed onlookers believe that student accommodation will replace the shops but in fact they may keep the shops open.

  4. Jean Rogers says:

    I support this policy, which considers ways in which the commitment to balanced communities, acknowledged by NPPF, Durham County Council and Durham residents alike, can actually be implemented.

    I note that in considering whether an area is able to accommodate additional student residents, D2.1 considers both the number of properties and the number of students, so that both smaller HMOs and larger PBSAs contribute to the total, and I endorse this approach as being self-evidently appropriate.

    I also welcome D2.3’s encouragement of conversion of HMOs back to C3. Many neighborhoods in the City have gone so far towards student domination that communities cannot be re-balanced without such reconversions, and I deplore the proliferation of crowded HMOs which have been adapted in ways that make them difficult to return to family use. Moreover, given the shortage of development land noted in the Theme 4 summary, ("every remaining site is precious") a street returned to family accommodation is worth having.

  5. Sidegate Residents' Association says:

    It is essential that the university itself should provide the accommodation for any additional students. It is threatening the city by its massive expansion so that we are no longer a balanced community but more like a company town. The development of HMOs and PBSAs must be restricted outside the current controlled areas to prevent displacement of the problem. The university’s Masterplan for expansion must be assessed as a whole for its impact on the city and not piecemeal as is happening at the moment.

  6. Mike Costello says:

    Whilst supporting the policy I suggest that it needs to be strengthened so that the 10% include PBSAs and properties which have HMO and PBSA permission but are not presently being used as such.
    It is the permission or use which is relevant NOT Council tax exemption, which is not always claimed.
    Similarly the population should be calculated as bed spaces of HMO and PBSAs in being or approved.

  7. Geoffrey Bromiley says:

    D2 is an appropriate policy meriting support, one which would with luck prevent the degeneration of more areas of Durham.

  8. John Pacey says:

    POLICY D 2
    I support this Policy

  9. Cath says:

    The vitally important role of the university in this city must be recognised.

    • Barbara says:

      Isn’t it already? It owns most of the city and does what it wants anyway. Locals don’t feel welcome in their own city as it is but still pay plenty in Council Tax to subsidise it so what is the point of your comment?