Coincidentally following on from a piece of work we have been doing around the problems caused by Houses of Multiple Occupation in the Pitcroft/Grange area of the ward all councillors were offered a briefing on the progress tackling this issue by the council.
The Pitcroft/Grange area in Park Ward -- as well as some areas in Redlands, Katesgrove and Battle -- has in my opinion too many HMOs in a very small area -- towards 100% of houses on some of the roads. These houses are mainly home to students. Having such a large concentration of HMOs in a small area creates problems for students and other residents alike -- parking pressures, many overflowing bins, a high turnover of the population resulting in people feeling isolated, an easy target for crime etc.
Large HMOs -- over six people -- are already regulated through the planning system. But the small HMOs aren't -- the Labour government passed some legislation in this area but the Conservative led government has never made use of it. However, the council can use Article 4 powers so that small HMOs require planning permission.
Unfortunately this isn't retrospective so we won't see areas dominated by HMOs going back to a more mixed state, but it should prevent other areas suffering the same fate.
The council is currently collecting evidence as to the detrimental impact such high concentrations of HMOs are having in Reading. There will be some consultation meetings in September. If you want to be kept updated on this issue please get in touch or sign up to our monthly newsletter.