Policy H/MO: Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

We are currently testing our new digital plan platform - please provide us your feedback

What will this policy do?

This policy will set the standards that proposals for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) must meet.

Proposed policy direction

We propose to carry forward the criteria based policy for considering proposals for new larger HMOs (sui generis use), as included in the adopted Cambridge Local Plan 2018, but with the policy applying to the whole of Greater Cambridge. The criteria will ensure that new HMOs are provided in suitable locations with appropriate facilities and parking, a good standard of amenity for their occupiers, and will not have significant negative impacts on matters such as the local amenity of the surrounding area. Reference to Circular 08/2010 will be removed as that has been withdrawn.

We propose that all new larger HMOs (sui generis use which require planning permission) will be required to meet the nationally described residential space standards and accessible and adaptable homes standards, and to provide direct access to amenity space as required for all new homes (see H/SS). We would require all new larger HMOs to meet the internal space standards required for a HMO to be licensed, whether the HMO is required to be licensed or not.

Why is this policy needed?

HMOs form an important part of the housing market in Cambridge, with a significant number of HMOs occupied by students. The high cost of housing in Cambridge makes HMOs a more affordable option for many than self-contained accommodation. HMOs can change the nature of an area, and can be seen to be associated with negative impacts to neighbourhoods, such as anti-social behaviours, car parking issues, and overcrowding.

The Local Plan therefore needs to set out how the Councils will consider proposals for HMOs and the specifications that should be met so that HMOs provide a standard of accommodation equivalent to that provided in other new residential developments.  

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Responses received to the First Conversation highlighted the need to create balanced and integrated communities by providing a mix of housing types, sizes, tenures, ownership and management that reflect the findings of the Councils evidence of housing needs of specific groups. This included support for HMOs, as part of making housing more widely accessible.

What alternatives did we consider?

1. No policy - This is not the preferred approach as the Councils consider that a criteria based policy is needed as the considerations for HMOs are different to other types of development and therefore it is necessary to safeguard local amenity.

2. To include a policy with a presumption against further HMOs - This is not the preferred approach as it would not allow sufficient flexibility in the housing market to deliver the housing needed for different groups, including students.

3. Not requiring new HMOs to meet space and amenity standards - This is not the preferred approach because national planning policy states that planning policies should ensure that developments create places with a high standard of amenity for existing and future users.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 7: Homes

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018 - None

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 48: Housing in multiple occupation

Tell us what you think

Tell us what you think about this policy, by clicking on the comment point (purple speech bubble) to open the comment box and leave your feedback.