A new policy dictating limits on how traditional housing can be replace by bedsit-style ‘houses of multiple occupation’ will soon go before Barnsley’s most senior councillors, with planners already warned that conversions are affecting major routes into the town centre.
Barnsley Council’s head of planning, Joe Jenkinson, told members of the authority’s planning board – who decide on whether or not to accept the most important or controversial planning applications – that a report was currently being drawn up and was expected to go before the ruling Cabinet next month.
If adopted, it would set out rules which would have to be followed by those seeking to create houses of multiple occupation, the term for buildings used to accommodate large numbers of single people, rather than traditional occupation patterns.
Mr Jenkinson stepped in to offer an insight into the emerging policy as councillors discussed the second of two applications to develop flats, or HMO style accommodation, in the Dodworth Road area, close to the town centre.
Councillors met to consider plans to turn the old Marborough pub in Dodworth Road into four flats and to build a new wing onto an existing house in Springfield Place, on the opposite side of the road, to create new mutli-roomed accommodation.
Coun Kath Mitchell had asked that both go before the planning board because of concerns about the impact on the area of having increased amounts of such housing, which some residents fear could bring an increase in anti-social behaviour, fly tipping and parking problems.
Plans to convert the pub were approved, though many councillors questioned the proposal, but the Springfield Place application was rejected even though it was a repeat of a scheme previously approved.
That was never built, so permission had lapsed.
Councillors rejected the proposals on the grounds that circumstances in the area had changed since the previous application was granted, including permission for a complex of more than 60 flats nearby.
Mr Jenkinson advised councillors they were “not on a hiding to nothing” by rejecting the Springfield Place application, because of developing changes in circumstances.
If the decision is put to appeal, the council may by that point have a new policy setting down parameters to control HMO development.
Coun Mitchell told the meeting that already in Dodworth Road: “There are 29 HMOs and 16 asylum seekers’ properties we know about.
“That (the Marlborough development) will just add to the problems we already have on this road. I just find it hard to believe you will put another HMO on that gateway to Barnsley.
“If any councillor is to look from Shaw Lane to the bottom (of Dodworth Road) they will understand what I’m talking about.”
Coun Joe Hayward added that Sheffield Road already had many bedsit properties which brought problems with drugs, alcohol and anti-social behaviour.
“Look at Dodworth Road and it is going the same way.
“We don’t want our major arteries coming into the town centre with bedsits or this type of property. We know what is going to happen.
“Sheffield Road is full of bedsits. Don’t make Barnsley a dumping ground, especially the centre of Barnsley,” he said.