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Tougher HMO restrictions begin in East of England

Landlords in Ipswich now face restrictions on converting properties into HMOs after the council's new Article 4 direction scheme went live on Saturday.

The scheme, which was voted through last November to help avoid the “wholly unacceptable adverse impacts” on residents of too many HMOs in the town fores landlords to apply for planning permission when developing small HMOs housing fewer than six tenants.

The direction covers large parts of Westgate and Alexandra wards, as well as northern sections in Bridge, St John’s and Priory Heath, eastern areas of Gipping and Gainsborough, and parts of Bixley, Hollywells, Rushmere and St Margaret’s. The final decision will need to be signed off by Housing Secretary Michael Gove.

Ipswich Council says because HMOs traditionally fall within permitted development, there are often no records of where these houses are within the borough, making it harder for councillors to identify issues.

From now onwards, each planning application will be assessed against the policies within the adopted Ipswich Local Plan.

Policy DM20 ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ will be the most relevant one for these applications and the council says this seeks to balance the requirements for potential new residents of the proposed HMO with the 'amenity' of nearby residents.


Councillor Carol Jones (pictured) adds: “Developers who buy little terraced houses in very nice, ordinary, parts of town should not be allowed to turn those into HMOs without going through a proper procedure. They have to make a planning application which is then judged - it’s a really simple thing.”

The Ipswich Star reports that although Jones welcomes the proposals, she is disappointed that the scheme does not affect the whole of Ipswich and is worried about those who are impacted by HMOs as many people could be living in poor conditions.

Proposals for a number of HMOs across Ipswich have been submitted in recent months, including an eight-bedroom home in St Helen’s Street, and similar plans in Stoke Street and Foxhall Road.

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