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Clamp down on student homes "excessive"

Worcester Editorial 21st May, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

PLANS to clampdown on the amount of student homes allowed in Worcester have been branded ‘disproportionate and excessive’ by a city property expert.

As we reported earlier this year, Worcester City Council’s planning committee agreed to impose a cap on the number of houses of multiple occupancy (HMO).

The move will mean a property could only be converted into a HMO if no more than ten per cent of homes within a 100 metre radius have already been turned into students flats.

The new policy, which is expected to come into force from July 1, would also mean landlords would have to secure planning permission if they want to rent homes for students or professionals .

But Dani James, chief executive at property management firm Premier Places, warned council bosses they risked creating a shortage of affordable homes in Worcester.

She believed it would make more sense to introduce the restriction on a ward by ward basis as she said only St Clement has passed the ten per cent threshold, while many other areas had fewer than one per cent of HMOs.

“Worcester City Council is trying to stop certain areas becoming over-run with one type of property, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to want,” she said.

“But the proposal as it stands is disproportionate and excessive.

“Restricting development in St Clement would be prudent but as the council’s own research shows it is simply unnecessary to require planning permission to create HMOs anywhere else in the city for the time being.

“HMOs provide a vital source of affordable housing, not just for the 13,000 students who now attend the growing University of Worcester, but for young professionals and other workers attracted to a city with a high employment rate.

“It would be hugely to the detriment of Worcester if this policy resulted in a shortage of housing that priced out people who need shared accommodation.”

A spokeswoman from Worcester City Council said officers had run an “extensive consultation” to find out what local residents, businesses and organisations thought of the proposals, which are expected to be rubbed stamped at a scrutiny committee meeting in July.

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