A new planning policy designed to limit the spread of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) in Swansea has had its first tangible result.

The policy stipulates HMO conversions in Uplands and Brynmill – areas popular with students – will only be allowed if they do not lead to more than 25% of all residential properties within a 50m radius being HMOs.

It was brought in as part of Swansea Council’s new local development plan.

The policy was tested by Yujuan Zhang, who appealed to the Welsh Government after the council refused an application to convert 214 St Helen’s Avenue, Brynmill, into a six-bed HMO.

The planning inspector said the HMO conversion would, if carried out, mean nearly half the properties within 50m being HMOs.

The inspector’s report added: “From my own observations, the existing concentration of HMOs in the vicinity of the appeal site is having a negative influence on the physical environment.”

There were no exceptional circumstances, added the report, which could outweigh the threshold test.

Councillor David Hopkins, cabinet member for delivery, has welcomed the inspector’s decision to dismiss the appeal.

“We made a commitment to residents in Swansea that we would put measures in place that would control the levels of HMOs in the city and make it difficult for new applications in areas that already feature a high concentration of HMOs,” he said.

The HMO threshold level for areas outside Uplands and Brynmill is 10% – and the council is in the process of drafting extra HMO planning guidance, which will be the subject of a public consultation this summer.

Cllr Hopkins added: “The inclusion of the new policy in our recently-adopted development plan is having the positive impact we want it to – which is to prevent new HMOs being created in streets and communities where levels are above what we believe to be acceptable levels.”

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