Council to halt tide of shared housing

Blackpool Town Hall

Blackpool Town Hall

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TOWN hall chiefs have beefed up their powers in the battle to prevent more failing guest houses being converted to shared houses.

Currently, while large properties need planning permission to convert to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), premises with up to six residents can convert without planning permission.

Pat Francioni

Pat Francioni

But the new rules mean in future smaller conversions will also need council approval.

Hoteliers fear the spread of HMOs in holiday areas is adversely affecting their trade because unruly tenants spark anti-social behaviour.

The new rules, known as an article four direction, will affect the inner wards of Warbreck, Claremont, Brunswick, Talbot, Bloomfield and Waterloo where there is most risk of former B&Bs drifting into shared occupancy.

A report to councillors says: “Other authorities have used article four directions in relation to location of student accommodation.

“In Blackpool, the issue is one of adding to the stock of HMO accommodation which is then attractive to further migration of single people, which would further distort the housing market and further contribute to unbalanced communities.”

Just over 12 months ago, hoteliers formed a campaign group because they were fed up of anti-social behaviour blighting their neighbourhood which they largely blamed on the spread of HMOs.

The Central Holiday Area Pressure Group said too much failing holiday accommodation was being allowed to convert to HMOs, which in turn were drawing undesirable residents to the area.

A public meeting at the Stanley Road Working Men’s Club was attended by hundreds of hoteliers who claimed drug dealing, violence, drunkenness and properties allowed to fall into disrepair were blighting the visitor economy.

There are around 3,000 HMOs spread across the town.

Pat Francioni of the Alumhurst Hotel on Charnley Road and a founder member of the Central Holiday Area Pressure Group, said: “I would welcome anything which prevents more properties from being converted to HMOs because of the problems they bring.

“I personally am experiencing less anti-social behaviour at the moment, which I believe is due to the selective licensing scheme.

“Although the scheme has only been introduced in South Shore, most landlords have properties across the town and there seems to be better control of tenants.”

Selective licensing of HMOs was introduced in South Beach earlier this year in order to clamp down on irresponsible landlords.

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