Council acts to prevent 'student ghettos'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Communities, Education
A council is to consult local people on proposals to toughen up planning rules, in an effort to prevent the creation of "student ghettos".
Worcester City Council insists that the move is not an attack on students or the city's university.
The council wants to make it harder for residential homes to be converted into student houses in an attempt to preserve the city's "unique character".
Currently a house occupied by a single person or a family can be turned into a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) for shared use by students, or other people renting individual rooms, without planning permission.
But the council's cabinet is now being recommended to use powers available under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to force local landlords to put in a planning application before such a change of use can be allowed.
Councillor Marc Bayliss, Cabinet member for Economic Prosperity, said: "It’s important that we retain Worcester’s unique character and avoid any danger of student ‘ghettos’ being created. By introducing this new planning rule, we would ensure that the student population is evenly spread across the city, in good quality suitable accommodation."
The cabinet will consider introducing the new rule – known as an Article 4 Direction – when it meets in February.
If backed, then the proposal will go to a four-week public consultation, giving local residents the chance to express their views.
A final decision is then expected to be made by the cabinet in May or June this year.
Should the proposal be approved, the new planning rule will come into force across the whole of Worcester 12 months later.
Councillor Geoff Williams, chairman of the Planning Committee, said: "This is a matter that affects the whole city and we need to consider how we can house people who need low-cost accommodation without adversely affecting other residents."