DRAFT planning guidance to help limit the spread of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in Swansea will go out for public consultation in the coming weeks.
The planning guidance will back up Swansea’s over-arching local development plan (LDP), which introduced HMO thresholds in the city this year.
Only 10% of residential properties can now be HMOs within a 50m radius, except in a designated area in parts of Uplands and Brynmill where the limit is 25%.
The draft planning guidance shows how these limits – including the “non-sandwiching” of residential properties – work in practice and clarifies minimum space requirements for HMO bedrooms and kitchens.
Communal lounges, it says, must be appropriate for the number of bedrooms proposed.
The draft guidance also covers the location and design of larger purpose-built student accommodation.
These purpose-built developments should be in what the council terms the central area and have a management plan addressing matters such as travel and refuse collection.
Several such developments are being built, for example on The Kingsway and the top of High Street, or have planning consent.
Deputy leader Clive Lloyd urged the council’s planning committee to approve the draft guidance.
“It has been a long time coming,” he said.
Councillor Lloyd’s St Thomas ward has seen a rise in the number of HMOs in recent years.
Although the new threshold policy gives areas like his more protection it emerged recently that an HMO in Crymlyn Street was approved by mistake because another HMO nearby wasn’t factored into the calculations.
Committee member Cllr Peter Black said he was happy to support the draft guidance.
“It will make our life much easier as a committee and make the lives of residents in St Thomas, Uplands and Brynmill easier as well,” he said.
Cllr Des Thomas wondered what would happen to student accommodation blocks if demand dropped.
Planning officer Tom Evans said he was confident the blocks being built would match the demand for Swansea’s “burgeoning student population”.
But he said their owners would need to make significant amendments if they wanted to convert them in the future into non-student residential blocks.
Speaking after the committee’s decision to approve the draft guidance Cllr David Hopkins, cabinet member for delivery, said: “We are keen to see these developments continue so they can complement the existing HMO provision we have in Swansea.”
He also said it was important to remember that HMOs were not just for students.
“The draft supplementary guidance will help our planning officers and councillors when they are implementing those (LDP) policies, enabling us to make sure that HMOs are approved in the right communities,” he said.