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Planners welcome new council powers to curb growth of shared housing

28 January 2010

The Royal Town Planning Institute, which represents 22,000 of Britain's planners, has welcomed Planning Minister John Healey's announcement that local councils will be given new powers to restrict the growth of houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) if they wish to.

The RTPI has called for such a move for some time, reflecting concerns from local authorities about the multiplying of shared houses which in some towns and cities (particularly those with universities) has led to problems such as increased parking, noise and litter and the loss of relatively inexpensive family housing.

Matt Thomson, Acting Director of Policy and Partnerships at the RTPI said:

\"We are pleased that the Planning Minister has announced new powers for councils who want to restrict the growth of shared houses in their local areas. The RTPI previously called for houses of multiple occupancy are to be defined as a separate class of housing within the 'Use Classes Order' and its great that the Government has listened, and that a single definition of what these houses are will be used across planning, housing and environmental health legislation.

Shared houses provide an important source of flexible and affordable accommodation for students, small households, and people who are only staying in an area for a short time. However, too many properties in specific areas can have detrimental impacts, particularly the removal of relatively inexpensive family housing from the local market, making it much more difficult for local families to get onto the housing ladder.

\"This measure will at long last give councils the power to properly manage shared housing in their area to meet the needs of their communities, whether this means being more flexible to allow for such accommodation, or taking steps to protect family housing.\"

The Government report and the Planning Minister's comments can be accessed at

This can be accessed at RTPI-response-to-HMO-consultation.pdf