Argyll and Bute Council publishes new HMO guidance

Argyll and Bute Council has published new guidance to help with assessing applications for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) across the council area.

The new, non-statutory guidance approved by the council’s planning, protective services and licensing committee was put together following public consultation. There are four key principles:

  • Support getting the right number of HMOs in the right places;
  • Ensure they are of good quality and properly maintained;
  • Manage the impacts on local amenities; and
  • Co-ordinate the approach between planning and licensing.

For planning purposes, an HMO is a house where more than five unrelated people live together, or a flat which three or more unrelated people share. However, a licence may be required where there are more than two unrelated people living in the house or flat.

HMOs play an important part in Argyll and Bute’s housing offer, particularly for student accommodation and workers in some of our key sectors, such tourism or defence.

A planning application is needed to change use of a dwelling to an HMO and environmental health provides a licence for the premises.

The guidance makes clear what issues are considered to manage potential impacts on the local area when assessing planning applications. These include:

  • the cumulative impact on the character of the area;
  • parking – sufficiency of off-road parking;
  • the potential for increase in noise and disturbance, on an individual case and cumulative impact basis;
  • impacts on residential and/or business amenity;
  • the circumstances and requirements related to student and military personnel accommodation; and
  • management and control mechanisms of the wider impacts.

Councillor David Kinniburgh, policy lead for planning and regulatory services, said: “There clearly is a demand for this type of housing in specific areas. Oban is fast developing as a University Town and the Maritime Change Project will see a further 1700 workers in Helensburgh and Lomond area.

“We have to make sure we do the best we can for those who wish to share homes, while still keeping the very special character of our communities.

“Concerns raised during the consultation were taken into account and addressed in the final guidance, so sincere thanks to those who took the time to respond.”

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