Portsmouth Council urged to extend HMO controls because of sewage issues

Portsmouth City Council is facing calls for tighter controls on houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) due to concerns about sewage issues and the loss of family homes. Currently, the city operates with a policy where no more than 10% of homes within a 50-meter radius can be HMOs for new applications.

During a recent meeting, Portsmouth city councillor Russell Simpson proposed implementing a 5% policy, similar to that adopted by Thanet District Council in Margate. However, Cabinet member for planning policy Hugh Mason expressed reservations about adopting such a policy, stating that emulating Thanet’s approach could potentially create more problems than it solves.

Councillor Simpson raised concerns about Portsmouth’s dense population, stressed sewerage system, and the loss of amenities and family homes. He questioned whether the city could qualify for a 5% policy to address these issues.

In response, Mr. Mason argued that implementing a 5% policy in Portsmouth could have unintended consequences. He suggested that while the south of the city might remain unaffected, the north could see an influx of HMO applications if stricter controls were enforced. He cautioned against rushing into such a decision, advising, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Cabinet member for transport Gerald Vernon-Jackson echoed Mr. Mason’s sentiments, stating that a 5% policy would likely be unenforceable and could potentially result in property developers circumventing any limits on HMOs, leading to their proliferation across the city.

Overall, while there are concerns about HMOs in Portsmouth, including sewage issues and the loss of family homes, there is hesitancy among council members about implementing a stricter 5% policy due to potential unintended consequences and enforceability issues.

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