By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.
Graham Awards


HMO clampdown spun as ‘preserving character of communities’

A clampdown on HMOs is to begin this week - and the council behind it is describing it as ‘preserving the character of local communities.”

Reading council is imposing further restrictions on the number of HMOs that can be built in each neighbourhood, following a public consultation.

Proposals include planning restrictions on further HNOs close to existing ones; specific rules for so-called deprived areas of Reading; and avoiding situations where an owner occupied residential dwelling is sandwiched between two HMOs.


The proposals will be considered on Thursday.

The principle for the existing and proposed new policy for converting houses to flats or HMOs, is that it should be assessed against the impact on the amenity or character of the surrounding area, particularly in terms of intensification of activity, loss of privacy, loss of external amenity space, the provision and location of adequate on-site car parking and the treatment of bin storage areas and other related servicing. 

While a conversion from a house to a large HMO always needs planning permission,  a conversion from a house to a small HMO benefits from permitted development rights under planning law and does not therefore generally require planning permission. 

It is why the council has already introduced Article 4 directions in parts of Reading where HMOs are prevalent, in order to bring these under planning control.

The restrictions which already exist in some parts of Reading to limit the number of new HMOs include the need to apply for planning permission for small HMOs in some wards covered by an Article 4 direction, and a 25 per cent limit to the proportion of HMOs within 50 metres of the application property. 

A council spokesperson says: “There is little doubt there is a huge and continuing demand for HMOs in Reading, but it is the council’s job to ensure we balance these demands with the need to retain and preserve the character of local communities in the town.

“We have seen that a prevalence of HMOs in parts of our town can lead to tensions in a local community. Examples include pressure on limited parking or multiple bin collections at HMO addresses. More fundamentally, HMOs can change the look, feel and character of a local neighbourhood, which existing residents understandably have concerns over.

“What we are proposing is tightening up the existing thresholds in Article 4 areas around the University, and introducing a new threshold for other parts of Reading where restrictions do not already exist and where applications for house conversions to HMO’s are spreading.

“If adopted, these changes strengthen and update existing planning policies and will be a material consideration when deciding if an HMO conversion will be approved.”

  • Roger  Mellie

    So all councils seem to bang on about is the need for affordable housing, and here is yet another example of cutting off the supply people need the most. Another great idea bought to you by your friendly neighbourhood council.


Please login to comment

MovePal MovePal MovePal
sign up