Have your say on student homes plan for Bath
People are being invited to have their say on plans to reduce the concentration of student housing in some part of Bath.
Bath and North East Somerset Council has launched a seven-week consultation over proposed new rules, which would control the growth of houses of multiple occupancy (HMO).
The idea is to respond to concerns from families that areas such as Oldfield Park are dominated by these types of properties, pushing out local people.
However both of Bath's university students' unions have attacked the plans for what is called an Article 4 direction, arguing that they should not be told where they can or cannot live.
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Naomi Mackrill, vice-president for community and diversity at the University of Bath's student union, said limiting HMOs would reduce the number of graduates staying in the city after their degrees, harming the local economy.
"Accommodation is a worry for students who want to stay in Bath. They just don't think they can afford to live in Bath," she said.
"Limiting the number of HMOs and improving graduate retention are two competing initiatives."
At the moment there are around 3,000 HMOs across the district, but the direction, if it was brought in, would apply only to new conversions.
It would mean that properties could not be converted into shared houses where 20 per cent of homes within a 100-metre radius already fell into that category of accommodation.
Council leader Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib Dem, Southdown) said any new rules would be brought in from July 1 next year, and he believed they were necessary to get the balance of types of housing right in the city.
He said: "The number of family homes being converted is reaching the level where people are concerned that entire communities will become dominated by HMOs. The council wants to ensure a fair mix of larger family homes and HMOs.
"We must have the policy tools in place to ensure that this happens just like other university cities, such as Bristol, Oxford, and Exeter, that have all agreed additional planning controls over HMOs. By starting the consultation now we are giving people reasonable notice about the new policy should the council agree to adopt the Article 4 Direction."
People can give their views by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to Article 4, Planning Services, PO Box 5006, Bath BA1 1JG. Details can also be found at www.bathnes.gov.uk/hmo.